Food security: PM Imran emphasises importance of building dams

Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Monday that if the hydropower potential of the country was tapped, Pakistan would not have faced ongoing issues of rising prices of electricity and inflation.

Addressing the international symposium regarding hydropower development in Pakistan held in Islamabad on Monday, the PM expressed that it is unfortunate that Pakistan has only built two dams.

“China has built 5,000 big dams in recent years, whereas Pakistan has only two dams, which were built in the 1960s.

“It is also unfortunate that due to this mistake we have suffered a lot, as we are generating electricity through imported fuel, and when global energy prices jump, electricity rates also rise in Pakistan which adds to the burden of the common man.

“If we would have generated electricity utilising the huge hydroelectric resources, we would have not been facing the ongoing high inflation rate.”

The prime minister was of the view that similar to oil price hike, the increase in electricity rates also inflate prices of other goods.

“Unfortunately, due to lack of long-term planning, we are facing these issues,” he said.

Giving the example of China, Khan said that long-term planning is the biggest strength of the neighbouring country.

Reemphasising the need for water security, Khan said that the country already faces water issues between the provinces. “Looking ahead as our population explodes, we would need to cultivate more land, but for that we need to store water,” he said.

The prime minister said that the country has fertile lands in Dera Ismail Khan, which could produce enough food crops to meet the needs of KPK, adding that it requires water for irrigation. Similarly, in Balochistan, hundreds of thousand acres can be used to cultivate cotton and wheat, which can be exported, the PM added.

“We have the land, but lack the water resources, and unfortunately that is because we were unable to store the water,” said Khan, adding that the construction of 10 dams would double the country’s water storage capacity.

He added that the global issue of climate change could also be mitigated with the generation of clean energy using hydroelectric sources.

Meanwhile, Khan reiterated the importance of Kalabagh Dam, saying that it is located at an excellent site.

“However, we have an issue that we need to convince the people of Sindh. We need to scientifically explain to them that the construction of Kalabagh Dam will benefit Sindh.”

“However, if we commence Kalabagh construction prior to their approval, destabilising elements will use it for their own gains,” said Khan.