Start Construction of Kalabagh Dam for Prosperity of Pakistan

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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.

Assembly Resolutions against Kalabagh Dam 

Time and again resolutions passed by three provincial assemblies of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), Sindh and Baluchistan against KBD are referred to while opposing construction of this project, so essential and important for prosperity of all provinces of Pakistan. Reality of these resolutions is as under.

1) KP Assembly: During 2008-2013 Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was governed by ANP, which is openly against Kalabagh Dam as an important point of its political jargon. In election of 2008 ANP obtained 5.78 lac (17%) out of 34 lac votes poled in KP while combined votes for PMLN and PMLQ were 7.13 lac. Assembly seats bagged by ANP were 48 as against 15 seats of both Leagues combined, thereby meaning more seats to form provincial government with less votes obtained - merely 5.3% of 10.96 million registered voters. Thus ANP easily passed a resolution in KP assembly against KBD in line with its manifesto. Even if for argument sake it is assumed that entire assembly passed this resolution unanimously, with 34 lac votes polled for all parties in 2008 election, it can only be termed as representative of 31% of registered voters in KP. Thus the much-hyped resolution in no way can be termed as voice of entire population of KP.

2) Sindh Assembly: Main catalyst behind assembly resolution is a fear that Sindh province will turn into a desert with construction of a storage dam at Kalagagh, a misconception to be deliberated upon later. However the ruling coalition favouring this resolution did not represent more than 51% of total voters. None of their resolutions against KBD can either be termed as voice of people of entire province of Sindh.

3) Baluchistan Assembly: Having none of its own direct grievances, Baluchistan Assembly passed resolution against KBD merely on the basis that provincial assemblies of KP and Sind were against KBD.

Fact of the matter is that reservations of ANP and most parties in Sindh against KBD are not based on truthful reasons and ground realities but are mainly due to petty prejudices, unfound apprehensions and vested interests. These resolutions are not in line with wishes of majority of the constituents, at least of KP who predominantly are not anti-KBD knowing very well that it will benefit their province by irrigating 800,000 acres of barren land of D.I.Khan, Bannu and Tank not irrigable with Chashma Right Bank Canal. Uplift irrigation scheme for this area is neither technically viable nor economically sustainable. This opportunity for KP is not otherwise possible from Diamer-Bhasha Dam (DBD) or any other storage upstream of Tarbela Dam. Opposition by ANP and others to KBD amounts to negating poor people of these areas from their only chance to prosper, which they have been deprived of for more than 20 years. With irrigation from a high-level right bank canal from Kalabagh Dam, KP being a food deficient province can boost its agriculture produce to reduce its dependence on others. Besides this, KP can also gain from Hydel Profit generated by the project in proportion to the area affected there-under through a realistic modification in Article 161(2) of constitution of Pakistan.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa fears Nowshera drowning.

Nowshera and areas around Kabul and Swat rivers were inundated during flood of 2010 even when KBD was not there. The real problem is due to about 800 m wide 6 km long narrow Attock Gorge starting near Kherabad, which blocks smooth flow of these rivers whereas River Indus remain under control from Tarbela Dam. Most appropriate remedy for this threat to Nowshera is construction of Munda Dam on River Swat, which needs to be rightfully and vigorously pursued in any case. KBD's maximum storage level at 915 ft cannot upsurge to drown Nowshera or higher grounds and block SCARP projects of Mardan and Swabi. Tarbela Dam is a practical example, which has never drowned Khalabat Township and Haripur or areas on banks of its reservoir above maximum conservation level of 1550 ft. Therefore there is no fun in beating the bush by repeating untrue story of submergence of Nowshera (at 978 ft), what to talk of Charsadda (994 ft), Mardan (1030 ft) and Peshawar (1004 ft) or for that matter SCARP projects of Swabi and Mardan which are all on higher grounds. 

The objection on the so-called water logging of Swabi planes is likewise no less preposterous. The maximum reservoir level of KBD is 915 ft, which will stay there for only few weeks in August-September and then drawdown by 90 feet to its minimum level of 825 ft in June next, to be ready for filling up again during monsoon months. No place in Swabi is below such levels. How can KBD reservoir create water logging in Swabi when close-by Tarbela reservoir about 350 feet above Swabi plains could not do so during last 40 years of its operation?

Right solution of saving Nowshera and surroundings from flooding as in 2010 is to construct Munda Dam (renamed Mohmand Dam) on River Swat. This will help in staggering simultaneous floods in Swat River and Kunar, Kabul rivers and tributaries. Most appropriate is that construction of Mohmand Dam is made conditional with Kalabagh Dam. 

Sindh Province fears converting into a Desert

Major objection of Sindh Province to KBD is that it will block or reduce irrigation water supply to Sindh converting it into a desert. Based on data provided by Sindh and compiled by IRSA, Sindh was historically getting an annual average of about 36 MAF of water before construction of Chashma Barrage and Tarbela Dam. Post Tarbela Dam annual water share of Sindh has increased to 43 MAF, which is 7 MAF (20%) more than before. KBD being no different than Chashma and Tarbela reservoirs would increase this share by another 2.26 MAF. Surprisingly Sindh has no objection to DBD on same river Indus, which has a similar storage capacity as KBD. It is beyond imagination as to how KBD would make Sindh dry but not any other dam on same river. Fact of the matter is that KBD will bring additional barren land of Sindh under cultivation and there is absolutely no credibility in politically motivated views that KBD is harmful to Sindh.

IRSA Water Apportionment Accord of 1991 guarantees share of water for Sindh (37%), Punjab (37%), KP (14%) and Baluchistan (12%) from all future reservoirs. Therefore no province can be deprived of its share from KBD nor can demand reduction in share of any other province. This accord also makes it obligatory on all provinces to share both surpluses and shortages of water in the same proportions.

Why both Kalabagh Dam and Diamer Bhasha Dam are essential

At present we are only concerned with shortage of power but time is near to come when we will be facing scarcity of water, not for drinking purpose but due to shortage of water supply for irrigation at times when desperately required to produce additional grains for feeding more than 250 million mouths by then. Therefore it is of utmost importance to build large storage reservoirs on River Indus and conserve precious water presently flowing back in Indian Ocean, a fact taken advantage of by India to gain sympathy at all international forums for diverting water of Pakistan’s rivers passing through held Kashmir. Average quantum of water escaping annually down to sea from 1976 to 2015 was 27.87 MAF mostly during monsoon months of July to September.

Kalabagh and Bhasha are only two sites on River Indus where ample storage capacity of 6 MAF plus can be created. All other sites are suitable for run-of-river type projects capable of generating electric power only. Therefore sites of both KBD and DBD are urgently required to be exploited.

A comparison between both projects show that KBD is much more advantageous than DBD in terms of its type (earthen dam versus 270 meter high concrete dam sitting on top of a fault line); lesser cost; enhance-able capacity (like Tarbela Dam, which was initially designed by TAMS for ultimate capacity of 2,100 MW from 12 units but now it has touched 4,888 MW on same 4 tunnels and another 1410 MW on 5th tunnel); easy rail/road access; less transmission cost and losses due to proximity to load centre and above all its location not being in a disputed territory to offset lame excuse for non-funding by World Bank, also followed by ADB.

It is not out of place to quote here an example of 14,000 MW Itaipu Dam constructed on Parana River flowing on border between archrivals Paraguay and Brazil, which were fighting amongst for centuries on rights of water from the river. When both countries realized importance of co-existence to exploit benefits for their people, they cooperated under an agreement to jointly construct this dam which now produces annual energy equal to world largest Three Gorges Dam in China.

Ours is the saddest story nowhere existing in the world that we have made Kalabagh Dam, of purely technical and economic importance, a politically controversial project on River Indus flowing within boundaries of Pakistan, thus blatantly disobeying His instruction “And hold fast, all together, by the rope which ALLAH (stretches out for you), and be not divided among yourselves”      (Aal-i-Imraan : 103).

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:

1.   Prime Minister of Pakistan 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. People have given you a verdict for bringing prosperity in the country, which is also possible by building Kalabagh Dam Project for securing prosperous future of Pakistan. 
God bless you with addition of this feather in your cap as well. 

2.   Chief Justice of Pakistan is requested to try opponents of Kalabagh Dam on illogical and baseless/untrue grounds under Section 6 of Constitution of Pakistan.

3.   Chief of Army Staff - Pakistan is also requested to provide fullest moral and logistic support to the Government of Pakistan by playing constructive and exertive role in this regard in line with wishes of Citizens of Pakistan.