Start construction of Kalabagh Dam and major water reservoirs

Start construction of Kalabagh Dam and major water reservoirs

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Naveed Ahmed started this petition to Prime Minister of Pakistan and

Pakistan ranks third amongst countries facing water shortages, according to an International Monetary Fund (IMF) report, which could topple all economic efforts in near future.

Mangla Dam (1967) and Tarbela Dam (1977) were the main catalyst in industrial and agricultural development of Pakistan. Since then their live storage capacity has reduced by 35% but no mega dam was constructed thereafter resulting in severe water shortage taking country to brink of water starved level and severe load shedding due to power generation shortfall.

In May 2018, Indian Prime Minister inaugurated Kishanganga Dam which will divert Jhelum waters to an underground power house. To do so, it will transfer the water from the Gurez Valley back into mainland Kashmir, instead of allowing it to flow into Pakistan. The dam will give India control over a river that flows from Pakistan into India-held Kashmir and then re-enters Pakistan. Resulting in more challenges for Pakistan.

According to Shamsul Mulk, former chairman of the Water and Power Development Authority, water policy is simply non-existent in Pakistan. Policymakers act like "absentee landlords" of water and because of this absentee landlordism, water has become the property of the landlords and the poor are deprived of their share.


A UNDP report says that Pakistani authorities are negligent about an impending water crisis that is posing a serious threat to the country's stability.

Neil Buhne, United Nations Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator mentioned that for people in Pakistan, perhaps the most immediate and serious impact of climate change is on water availability. According to a report by the World Resources Institute, Pakistan is on track to become the most water-stressed country in the region, and 23rd in the world, by the year 2040. No person in Pakistan, whether from the north with its more than 5,000 glaciers, or from the south with its ‘hyper deserts’, will be immune to this.

Pakistan’s economy is the most water-intensive worldwide, according to an IMF report. According to the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources, Pakistan may run dry by 2025 if the present conditions continue. They claim that the country touched the ‘water stress line’ in 1990, and crossed the ‘water scarcity line’ in 2005, more than a decade ago, and that in relation to the scale of the problem relatively little has been done to improve the use or supply of water.


Current Water Availability

At independence, the per capita availability of water was over 5,000 cubic meters, which has shrunk to 1,000 cubic meters today.

Agriculture is the backbone of this country with more than 21 per cent of the GDP coming from the sector. Of the country’s exports, 70pc are from the agriculture sector that depends upon water.

According to the Pakistan Water Partnership, the total available surface water is about 153 million-acre-feet (MAF) while the total ground water reserves are approximately 24MAF. The population of Pakistan in 2030 is expected to be around 240 million. It is estimated that the country will have to face a shortage of 31MAF of water by 2025 which would pose a grave threat to the economy and stability.



Why Kalabagh Dam?

Kalabagh Dam will bring economic prosperity all over Pakistan with additional water supply for irrigation through a storage capacity of 6.1 MAF, reduction in prevailing power shortage with annual generation of 12,000 million units from its 3,600 MW powerhouse and flood control with no adverse impacts to any of the provinces.

Besides, the general feeling in the country, even in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, is that the power crisis and water scarcity have not only pushed the economy to the brink of disaster but also destroyed the peace. The common man also endorses the views of the technical experts on the dam.

Major Benefits from Kalabagh Dam

Mangla Dam (1967) and Tarbela Dam (1977) were the main catalyst in industrial and agricultural development of Pakistan. Since then their live storage capacity has reduced by 35% but no mega dam was constructed thereafter resulting in severe water shortage taking country to brink of water starved level and severe load shedding due to power generation shortfall. Kalabagh Dam Project would play a very important role by way of replacing storage lost by sedimentation in existing reservoirs at Mangla, Tarbela and Chashma, providing effective regulation of Indus river to meet additional Kharif allocations of the provinces under IRSA Water Apportionment Accord-1991, regulation and control of high flood peaks in the Indus, and generating a large chunk of hydro-power.

With Diamer Bhasha Dam construction nowhere in site, Kalabagh Dam is the most appropriate and better alternate option in terms of reduced cost; storage capacity with supply of water share to irrigate 800,000 acres of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) besides other provinces; enhanced generation capacity (with provision for expansion like Tarbela Dam now going to be +6,000 MW from initially designed capacity of 2,100 MW) with revenue of Hydel Profit to both Punjab and KP in proportion to area submerged; less transmission cost/losses due to proximity to load centre also contributing to reduction in NTDC's power system transmission losses; preferable geology (remoteness from fault line); easy rail/road access (no dislocation of important roads like KKH - Karakoram Highway) and most important no impediment in financing by World Bank and other donors because of its location.

Flood Control

Floods in Jhelum and Indus rivers get controlled to a greater extent by Mangla and Tarbela dams, but same in Kabul, Swat, Chenab and Ravi rivers play havoc in KP, Punjab and Sindh during monsoons every year. Problem of inundation of Nowshehra and areas around during floods in Kabul and Swat rivers is mainly due to narrow Attock Gorge (about 7 km long 800 m wide) near Kherabad which blocks smooth flow of these rivers combined with controlled releases from Tarbela Dam. Devastation done by floods in these rivers during 2010 when Kalabagh Dam was still not there is clear to understand. Kalabagh Dam will help in minimizing the peaks of major floods and providing the needed flood relief downstream. Munda Dam on River Swat is the right solution for protecting Nowshehra and Swabi from its floods.

Politicization of Kalabagh Dam

Construction of Kalabagh Dam was to be started in 1988, but the plan was shelved due to politically motivated opposition mainly from NWFP (now KP) and Sindh. Factual position is that neither Nowshehra (and so Swabi, Mardan, Charsadda, Peshawar at still higher elevations) nor SCARP projects of Mardan and Swabi (all above 950 Ft) are going to be submerged in its reservoir (max retention level of 915 Ft for few weeks only).

Haripur and Khalabat Township in KP are practical examples, which have never submerged due to construction of Tarbela Dam so close. Construction of dykes along banks of Kabul River under the project will further protect low-lying areas of Nowshehra District from overflowing of the river. Before construction of Tarbela Dam, Sind was receiving about 36 MAF per year, which became 43 MAF thereafter. With additional water supply of 4.75 MAF from Kalabagh Dam to irrigate additional 1 million acres of barren land, Sindh will never become barren but benefit more than any other province.

Likewise KP, Punjab and Balochistan will also benefit from their due shares of 2.01, 2.04 and 1.56 MAF of water supply respectively for irrigation from this project. The apprehensions that Nowshehra will drown and Sindh become desert by construction of Kalabagh Dam are thus only figments of imagination. The opposition of Kalabagh Dam is therefore not based on solid facts but politically motivated spreading disinformation and blatant lies on behest of foreign hand.

This propaganda has best been countered in an article “Such ka Qehat” by a world-class expert on dams, Engr. Shamsul Mulk, Ex Chairman WAPDA and CM Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, himself hailing from Nowshehra.

Mishandling of the Project

None of the governments so far has handled this matter wisely and earnestly preferring political expedience over national prosperity. Keeping this important project under the carpet due to politically motivated opposition by few elements amounts to being unpatriotic. Delaying construction of Kalabagh Dam any further will result disastrous due to further reduction in agricultural produce on account of depleting storage capacity of existing reservoirs to feed rapidly exploding Population of Pakistan in near future. Pakistan is already losing about Rs. 180 billion annually, due to replacement of its cheap hydel energy with costly thermal energy, just because of not constructing Kalabagh Dam. Pakistan's enemies could have never wished a worst scenario for Pakistan than this. It constitutes the most grievous betrayal of Pakistan and its people by the political governing class and rulers.

Action Required

Prime Minister of Pakistan (to be Elected after General Elections after 2018) is requested to immediately develop necessary consensus on Kalabagh Dam (even go for National Referendum, if so required) and start construction of the project without fearing any resistance from the rogue elements working on behest of enemies of Pakistan.

Source: This petition is based on petition to Ex-Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif, Ex. COAS Gen. Raheel Sharif by Mr. Azhar Panni, GM (Retired) National Power Control Center

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