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Dam alternatives?

37 24 1088

“THERE has never been a fair playing field when dams have been compared with their alternatives. Corruption and the power of the big-dam lobby … [has] meant that feasibility studies for new dams have regularly underestimated their costs and exaggerated their benefits,” writes Patrick McCully, director of International Rivers Network, UK.

A group of researchers from Oxford University analysed 245 dams built between 1934-2007 in 65 different countries and found that average cost overruns were 96 per cent.

Pakistan has recently suffered a staggering cost overrun of more than 500pc in the country’s Neelum-Jehlum hydel project.

Cost overruns in the accounting books may just be one issue related to large hydel projects. There are many other costs that are associated with unsustainability — displaced communities’ destroyed ecosystems, eroding river deltas, drowned scenic river valleys, wrecked nutrient-replenishing sediment cycles in the floodplains, and so on. These unintended, yet unavoidable, consequences have costs that are referred to as ‘economic externalities’, which are inevitably borne by one or more segments of society.

To light a 100-watt bulb, taxpayers have forfeited Rs100,000.

To top it all, dams have a limited useful........

© Dawn