If Pakistan dumps as much as about 21 billion dollars worth of water into the Arabian Sea every year because we do not have sufficient water conservation system .This amounts to more than half of the total water the country receives in a year. According to the experts, the problem is that our current dam storage facility can only store a total of 30 days of water.
And if Pakistan quite shockingly has lost 1570 billion cubic meters (BCM) of water in last 38 years which alone could have contributed 636 billion dollars to its agriculture Gross Domestic Product (GDP) along. This huge quantum of water has gone as waste the Arabia Sea and had it been stored in dams, it would have generated 430,000 megawatts of electricity .
Then we all and none else are responsible because in the last 40 years after Tarbela Dam we have not constructed another major storage facility . The experts say that one solution is to construct the controversial, condemned, criticised and politicalised Kalabagh dam. But that project as a matter of bitter is a non-starter because of the resolute opposition of Sindh, Khyber Pukhtoonkhwah and Balochistan provinces and out of four federating units only Punjab is in favour of its construction. Still, it is also deniable fact that that the storage capacity of both Tarbela and Mangla dams is being gradually reduced by the addition of silt.
Opposition to the construction of Kalabagh dam is to such an extent that the Provincial Assemblies of Sindh and Khyber Pukhtoonkhwah have adopted resolutions against it more than once during last couple of decades but apprehensions against the construction of Kalabagh dam that it would cause great losses to the two provinces are far from realities and facts and regretfully are merely based more on political and provincial biases and prejudices than facts. These prejudices and biases as well as apprehensions against the construction of Kalabagh dam being gravely harmful for the two provinces are being discussed briefly in this article to prove that all apprehensions and suppositions are simply wrong and nothing else.
The Nature has blessed Pakistan with immense resources which cannot be counted easily and there should be no shortage and load shedding of electricity from which we have been suffering for almost two decades till now. There should be no dearth of water for agriculture and people should not be suffering heavy losses of precious lives and property and excavation from homes due to floods every now and then. But it is only our great misfortune and nothing else that for decades together we are suffering these losses .Needs, interests and requirements of the people regarding Kalabagh dam are in so much contradictory and conflicts that this has not been witnessed previously. This is such an important national project of great significance that despite being viable and feasible the multi-purpose dam cannot be constructed because the required national consensus among the four federating units somehow remains elusive, elusive and elusive.
Apprehensions, fears , objections and suppositions of Sindh and Khyber Pukhtoonkhwah against the construction of multi-purpose Kalabagh dam are being mentioned here and rebutted turn by turn.
Those against Kalabagh dam construction from Sindh have major objection that if it is constructed, Sindh will suffer so much and it will be rendered barren. This objection is absolutely baseless and wrong.
According to the facts available from various sources, prior to the construction of firstly Mangla dam and secondly Tarbela dam, Sindh was getting on average 3 crore 60 lakhs acres feet of water annually. One acre feet of water is about two lakhs seventhy thousand gallons of water. Following the construction of both these dams has increased to four crore 30 lakhs acres feet meaning thereby Sindh is getting 70 lakhs acres of water additionally as compared to previously, If because of construction of Mangla and Tarbela dams, Sindh is getting more water then how it will suffer with the construction of Kalabagh dam on this river Indus. Kalabagh dam lake cannot absorb river Indus, it has to emit water and it has to reach Sindh province. According to the experts, after construction of Kalabagh dam Sindh province will be getting about 40 lakhs acres of water additionally which will be double than 20 lakhs acres feet which Punjab will be getting additionally.
Another objection being raised continuously is that like every river, Indus river annually water flow keeps changing and if Kalabagh dam is constructed, for getting full benefits its lake has to be filled fully to its capacity and water flow in the river is less then for filling the lake, the share of Sindh province will be reduced. Water is more or less, its equitable distribution among the provinces is done according to a formula in accordance to the Indus Water Apportionment Accord of 1991 by the Indus River System Authority (IRSA). Credit in all fairness for this goes to the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in his first tenure. IRSA comprises duly nominated representatives of the Federation and the four provinces.
Another apprehension and fear is that after the construction of Kalabagh dam, two more canals will be constructed downward of river Indus as a result of which share of water of Sindh will be reduced. As a matter of fact, presently, it as many as seven canals are carrying water from river Indus and irrigating the lands of Punjab and Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa. These all seven canals can withdraw about 65 thousand cosecs of water from river Indus whereas capacity of two canals to be constructed downward of Kalabagh dam will be much less than this.If Sindh province is getting its share of water even after these seven canals then what loss will occur to it with two small canals? One fact which is ignored by all is that Tarbela lake is located in Khyber Pukhtoonkhwah and this province gets only 4 per cent of water and Sindh as much as 70 per cent. Objection on this basis as such is wrong and improper and also against the very spirit of the 1991 Water Accord among the provinces..
Many objections are also raised against storage of 61 lakh acres feet after construction of Kalabagh dam. Some years back, the federal government gad constituted a panel of international experts to examine all these objections. After detailed study, the experts panel submitted its recommendations to the government. Out of these two important recommendations were that 5000 cosecs of water should pass under Kotri Barrage day and night and in flood season,50 lakh acres of water should also pas under Ktori Barrage and for ensuring 5000 cosecs of water passes from under Kotri barrage continuously day and night is present in the system a very big dam should immediately be constructed. These recommendations are somehow overlooked by the critics from Sindh.
Major objection of the opponents to Kalabagh dam from Khyber Pukhtoonkhwah is that its construction will submerge Nowshehra. Historically speaking, two most worst floods had struck and caused immense devastations in 1929 and 2010 and then there was no mention even of Kalabagh dam as such the supposition and objection is not based on facts. Another objection that plains of Mardan, Pabbi and Swabi will be badly affected by waterlogging and saline is also baseless. How Kalabagh dam lake 90 feet lower than these plains can adversely cause damage?
Another objection that Kalabagh dam construction will reduce cultivable land and sunk it under water. Irrigated cultivable area which is fared to be flooded after construction of Kalabagh dam is 3000 aces in whole project out of which 2900 acres of land is in Punjab and only 100 acres is in Khyber Pukhtoonkhwah.
Lot more can be written and said in favour of multi-purpose Kalabagh dam construction but for want of space this is being left over for some other time, please. Pakistan and our posterity needs Kalabagh dam very badly and urgently , the sooner it is constructed after evolving ever-elusive national consensus and brushing aside political, vested and regional interests the better it will be. When there will be no drop of water even to drink in times to come, then the opponents will also be equally among those suffering, please.