KARACHI: Rehabilitation of Sukkur barrage would cost Rs25,000 million to government while the cost of construction of a new barrage would be around Rs100,000 million.
This was stated by Secretary irrigation Zaheer Hyder Shah while briefing Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah on the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Sukkur Barrage, here at the CM House.
He said that the Sukkur Barrage was constructed on River Indus in 1923-32. Sedimentation problems started developing within two years of construction. The permanent closure of 10 gates have formed an island and a submerged weir which has reduced the flood capacity of the barrage from 1.5 million to 900,000 cusecs.
Secretary irrigation said that all the gates were replaced between 1986-92 and an emergency repairs were carried out in 2004 when a large scour hole developed in right pocket.
Replying to a question of Chief Ministers regarding the findings of feasibility study, Zaheer Hyder Shah said that all the gates of the barrage are in good condition except the five which need to be replaced. Its Pond level and freeboard below the gates also required to be increased. This would help open the gates to their maximum level.
he said that electrical work of the barrage need to be replaced and a modern monitoring and control room may be established.
Talking about risk of failure for the existing barrage, the secretary said that the flood of 2010 passed with freeboard margin of just about two feet when the gates were opened completely. During high floods only 27 of the 66 barrage gates remain active causing risky flow concentration in central left part of the barrage.
He said 10 gates of the barrage were closed permanently between 1938-46. As a result an island developed in front of the closed gates . The large curvature of existing outer bank casts a shad own too further 17 gates in passing of the flood rivers. The limited capacity for flood access into left and right pockets restricts 12 more gates in passing of flood to their fully capacity.
Replying to another question Zaheer Hyder Shah said that rehabilitation of the barrage which include repair of canal head regulators, right pocket river training works, fish-pass and overflow weir in span 59, dredging works, electrical works, modernisation of monitoring and control instruments, construction of new buildings for monitoring, control system, laboratory, workshops and other buildings would cost Rs25,000 million.
Talking about construction of a new barrage with same dimensions as existing barrage would cost Rs100,000 million which would be four times the cost of proposed rehabilitation. The construction of new barrage would may take eight to 12 years.
Giving details of the importance of Sukkur Barrage, the secretary said that it contributes 30 percent in the GDP of provincial agriculture while there is 80 percent agriculture dependence on Sukkur Barrage.
He said in case of its failure there would be 8 million cusecs decline in irrigation water, 25 percent reduction from Rs7,308 million to Rs5,113 million in the provincial GDP. It would cause 5 percent impact on national economy and to affect 26.4 million population of the province.
The chief minister said that the rehabilitation of the Sukkur Barrage is need of hour. “We would hold another meeting to take a concrete decision. Now, it is very simple protect the barrage means protects the agriculture of Sindh.”