Dr Tauseef Aized World energy consumption is rapidly increasing with an increase in population and urbanisation. The shortage of energy is the axis around which world politics spins and despite gigantic research efforts, the enigma of want of energy still remains unsolved. Historically, economic growth has been highly correlated with electrical energy use. The per capita energy consumption is an indicator to measure the prosperity of any society. It is approximately 500 KWh in Pakistan whereas the world average is 2500 KWh which is five times greater than that of ours. This evidently indicates that Pakistan is an energy-deficient country. The total available capacity of electrical generation in Pakistan is 14000 MW and the country is facing a shortfall of 4000 MW in the present summer. The share of thermal power in our electrical energy supply mix had been around 51 percent followed by hydropower with 45 percent in 1980, but this proportion changed due to the power policy of 1994 which unjustly emphasised thermal power generation over hydroelectric power. Currently, Pakistan is critically dependent on thermal power generation with a share of around 63 percent, followed by hydroelectric generation amounting to 32 percent. Hydroelectric energy is far cheaper than thermally generated electricity in our environment. The predominant proportion of thermally generated electricity has pushed the price of electricity to unprecedented levels, which are absolutely unaffordable for both individuals and organisations. A commoner is constrained to spend a major chunk out of his income to pay the electricity bill; on the other hand, the production and service organisations are bound to produce goods and services at uncompetitive prices, mainly due to higher input energy prices. All this has created a gloomy economic scenario. Furthermore, thermal power generation requires oil which is by and large an imported commodity as Pakistan meets its 80 percent oil demand through imports. Hydroelectric power is a renewable form of energy which provides nearly 20 percent of the world's total electricity demands and produces no primary waste or pollution. Unlike other types of power stations, hydroelectric power stations can promptly increase to full capacity. Electricity can be generated constantly so long as sufficient water is available. Many countries preponderantly rely on hydropower for electricity generation. Compared with total current demand of 18000 MW, Pakistan has an identified hydropower potential of 45000 MW out of which merely 15 percent, amounting to 6500 MW, has so far been exploited. The four major projects in this regard include Tarbela, Ghazi Barotha, Mangla and Chashma, having a capacity of 3478, 1450, 1000 and 187 MW respectively. Tarbela, Mangla and Chashma are declining due to sedimentation and the live storage capacity has been reportedly reduced by about 20 percent. The only meaningful activity during the recent past has been the construction of the Ghazi Barotha project whereas the Neelum-Jhelum project with a capacity of 969 MW is under construction at the moment. There are a number of potential projects in the country, totalling thousands of mega-watts capacity. Apart from these big reservoirs, there are a large number of potential medium and small scale and run-of-river projects. Additionally, there are a lot of sites available for mini and micro-hydropower projects. The recoverable potential in micro-hydropower up to 100 KW is roughly estimated to be 300 MW on perennial waterfalls in the northern areas. Besides, there is an immense potential for exploiting waterfalls in the canal network, particularly in the Punjab, where low head but high discharge exists on many canals. More than 300 such locations with nearly 350 MW potential have been identified so far. However, the construction of a dam can have a serious environmental impact on the surrounding areas. The amount and the quality of water downstream can be affected, which can harm plant life both aquatic and land-based. Because a river valley is being flooded, the local habitat of many species are destroyed, while people living nearby may have to relocate their homes. These issues must be thoroughly addressed while planning and designing hydropower projects. In order to overcome the prevailing electrical energy crisis, rigorous exploitation of hydropower resources is imperative. The dwindled share of hydroelectric power in our electrical supply mix is not a healthy sign from an economic point of view. Pakistan must endeavour to switch the bulk of its electricity supply mix to indigenous hydroelectric power which will certainly save a lot of foreign reserves and will promote self-reliance. The writer is a professor, University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore, and currently research fellow, Monash University, Australia E-mail: tauseef_aized@yahoo.com