KALABAGH DAM, A MATTER OF SURVIVAL FOR PAKISTAN

By Asad Omar Cheema

The country on our INDEPENDENCE DAY lay in ruins because of flooding ONLY because of poor planning. Had our leaders understood the real need and importance of KALABAGH Dam the poor people of our country would not have been suffering like this. It is always good planning which makes life easier or difficult. Alll politically ambiguos cofusions and fears of those against the building of the dam can be sorted out thru parliamentary debates if the correct vision and understanding is kept in mind of the colossal harm our nation goes thru when flooding like we are going thru occurs. The country has slid back at least five years and we are begging the world for help for our own mistakes.
The Prime Minister should initiate the process of developing a national consensus on the construction of Kalabagh Dam as soon as possible and satisfy the provinces of their reservations through discussions/debates in the Parliament so that those generally hostile to the dam should also be satisfied and come to know how important it is for the national economy to start work on the dam and how any further delay in its construction would be an invitation to disaster for the country in the near future.

The perils of depleting water reservoirs and the need for construction of not only Kalabagh Dam but many other dams to meet the future water requirements of the country should be undertaken specially of the Sindh Province. Our existing dams are depleting and we have a water short fall of over 15 million acre feet which is equal to water stored in Mangla Dam and this shortage will continue to increase with every passing year and the biggest sufferer will be the province of Sindh. The depleting capacity of the existing water reservoirs call for at least one dam like Kalabagh, Bhasha or Bunji every 10 years. We have been neglecting this dire requirement and did not construct any new dam during the last 30 years and the country is today suffering for this criminal neglect in the form of floods, drought and acute water shortage throughout the country specially in Sindh and Balochistan. Punjab has plenty of sweet sub soil water and in case of shortage it can meet its requirement by sinking more tubwells. But Sindh has brackish sub soil water which cannot be used for irrigation purposes. The water shortage in Sindh thus will be much more acute in the coming years and this disaster can be averted only by undertaking construction of new dams on warfooting.
Big dams take a long time to build and that even the feasibility study for a major dam can take several years. Pakistan urgently needs to build more dams to boost the country’s water-storage capacity like Turkey which has built 40 dams on the Tigris River and other rivers over the last five decades, while Pakistan, during the same period, has built only two. Mangla Dam on the River of Jhelum (completed in 1968) and Tarbela Dam on the River Indus (completed in 1974). If we take a decision right now to go ahead with the construction of a dam, it will be completed in the year 2020, by which time the water shortage in the country will rise to 25 million acre-feet, and by the year 2024 or 2025 the shortage will go up to 28 million to 30 million acre-feet. It is stupidity if we keep losing our water to the sea each year while our people keep longing for it.

The feasibility study of Kalabagh Dam was prepared long ago and a lot of preliminary work has already been done on the project. Its construction can be started in few months hoping to be completed by 2019/2020. In the meanwhile work on feasibilities of Bhasha and Nunji has been undertaken and work on these two dams should be completed by 2015 and 2020 respectively. If we want to meet the water requirements of next fifty years, we will have to build all these dams besides identifying new sites.

The Kalabagh Dam has become an absolute necessity for the country and delaying or abandoning its construction would be an invitation to a disaster. The water situation has become precarious and the provinces are going to each others throat already over the issue of water supply. Pakistan is one of the unfortunate country which has not built a major dam in the last three decades. No wonder, today the country is facing a serious water crisis. Millions and millions of rupees have been spent on the feasibility report of this Dam, alterations have been made in the plan to remove the apprehensions of those who have opposed it for one reason or the other, but all these have proved futile exercises and the project has not moved an inch forward. The unnecessary politicisation of the issue has been the major hurdle. However, it would be advisable for the President and Prime Minister to allay the genuine fears, if any, of the critics of the Dam. It would be suicidal to let the Dam become victim of a political controversy. Those who are using the issue as a political ploy to do politicking are advised not to do so as it amounts to playing with the destiny of the country. The government would not find it easy to build up a consensus on the issue. They need to muster support of politicians who matter. And it would require patience, imagination, good sense and finally power of persuasion. It is good that the Chief Executive has already initiated a process of dialogue with the politicians. The governors should also become a part of it at their level. Secondly, the opponents of the project have become allergic to the name of Kalabagh Dam. There is a lot of merit in Imran Khan’s suggestion to change the name of the Dam to Indus Channel. Apparently this may appear a gimmick, but surrounded by a peculiar political controversy as Kalabagh Dam is, this gimmick may deliver, as it could provide a way out to those staunch opponents who had gone too far in their opposition of Kalabagh Dam, but would accept it if given another nomenclature/name.

Kalabagh Dam is imperative for the good of the country and work on the project should begin without the fear of any adverse reactions. It would be a great achievement if the present government makes a breakthrough on this explosive issue. If they should do it, they would not only carve out a name for themselves in the history of the country, but also win the abiding gratitude of the nation.

NOTE:This is a cross post.

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Comments

  • khurshid666  On September 23, 2010 at 1:03 am

    Discussions/debates in the Parliament will be of no use. The spadework has already been done by the ‘The Technical Committee on Water Resources’ which produced two reports, one, a two member (Chairman and one member) report which opposed Kalabagh dam, and the other, a seven member (Punjab-2, NWFP-2, Balochistan-2 and Sindh-1) majority report which approved the dam.

    The main argument of the chairman ANG Abbasi minority report was that there was not enough water in the river system to justify a third mega dam. This argument now stands nullified by the decision to go ahead with Bhasha dam. If there is not enough water for Kalabagh dam, which has five big rivers joining the Indus at Kalabagh, plus input from the 30 maf annual rainfall, then how can there be water for Bhasha dam which has no rivers, no rainfall and will be fed only by snow melt from the glaciers.

    The World Bank should be asked to appoint a neutral expert to study the above report. Also review the Feasibility and Project Reports prepared by local, culminating in preparation of International Tenders which could not be issued due to political controversy.

    There should be no two opinions that the depleting capacity has to be replaced if Pakistan is to remain an agricultural country. Also to augment the 30 day contingency reserves.
    \
    The comparison between Punjab and Sindh with regard to ground water is also correct. Sindh needs Kalabagh dam more than Punjab.

    It is rightly projected that the 25 maf shortage by 2020 will increase to 30 maf by 2025 when the population will have doubled.

    The projection with regards to the need for many more dams to meet the above shortages is also quite accurate. Kalabagh dam which can come on stream the earliest is no longer a matter of choice, it is a matter of survival of the country.

    Apart from the above effort on the part of the government, the print media has a pivotal role in educating public opinion on the pros and cons of dams and on Kalabagh dam in particular. The English and Urdu newspapers have to din into the ears of the ignorant public that dams are built to overcome water shortage, not to create water shortage as is commonly thought.

    This is the biggest stumbling block in the way of dams. The other is that there will be theft of water at the dams. Under the Water Apportionment Accord of 1991, the share of each province in any new dam has been fixed, equal share for Punjab and Sindh despite the vast difference in population and area under cultivation (Why would Punjab carrying 80 percent burden of agriculture for the whole country be willing to decrease its own share to increase Sindh’s share except to develop consensus on Kalabagh dam).

    Water management is no rocket science. We have too much water for three months and not enough for the remaining nine months. We either store or we perish – KA

  • Admiral Iftikhar Ahmed Sirohey  On September 23, 2010 at 5:59 am

    Not only KB Dam but many more. The Water Resources and Hydropower Development vision 2025 is still current. KB is the only plan ready to be executed. The flood this year is arepeat of 1930. I have written on it in detail. If we donot heed the threat even now there could be greater catastrophe as the interval may be much shorter due to climate change.

    We need dams/dikes and power for our surviva very urgently. For KBD the trust deficit between provinces has to be removed. Put all concerned in a hall with all the needed support to emerge only after evolving all the misunderstandings.

    • Ali  On September 23, 2010 at 2:03 pm

      first diagnosis of ailment tah treatment.The ailment is trust deficit due to prolonged dictatorships which allowed on region/or at best some areas to rule whole country without their consent and partnership.It needs to be rectified,there should be truth and reconciliation commission which should listen to all aprties.The decsion of dictator to sale rivers in 60s and no particiaption from sindh must be debated.If Pakistan is asking India to abide by the rights of low riparians so the sam eshould be practoice dby Punjab by dealing with Sindh.It is expecetd that fair play and trust can resolve all issue sincluding water banks.
      AAS

      • Syed Imam  On September 23, 2010 at 2:04 pm

        who wants the good of the country?

  • komal  On September 3, 2015 at 6:06 am

    kalamazoo bag dam is require mentioned of our country because lot of water is waste

  • komal  On September 3, 2015 at 6:08 am

    it must must must be built because lot lot water is waste

  • komal  On September 3, 2015 at 6:11 am

    I want progress of our country. and it built and who do want progress of our country they want not built it in reality

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