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Construction of Kalabagh Dam– Defeat of RAW and MQM

Construction of Pakistan Dam; Kalabagh – Defeat of RAW and MQM

By Aurangzeb Alamgir

In 2005, Ex COAS and then President of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf announced various mega projects in the country including Gwadar City, Gwadar deep sea port, Makran Costal Highway, Quetta Water Supply, Tangi Wali Dam and Lwari Tunnel. He was also about to announce the inauguration of Pakistan Dam (Kalabagh) when RAW and NDS maneuvered through their proxies in Pakistan. Primarily, Altaf Hussain (MQM) who through a phone call thretened President of Pakistan of dire consequences if Pakistan dam (Kalabagh) was announced. 

As a matter of fact India/RAW became terrified by construction of Pakistan Dams as on one hand Pakistan has became Atomic Power, Mineral rich country and on the other hand the Water Management by construction of dams would have generated Economic Activity in the county. Hence a conspiracy was hatched by RAW/NDS to create disenchantment / friction between the provinces through their Pakistan based proxies in a bid to create hindrance / impediments by supporting Baluchistan Liberation Army (BLA) Baluchistan Liberation Front (BLF) and other terrorist organizations.

Due to their conspiracy, Water scarcity is currently the biggest issue of Pakistan. At present, the country is storing 10% of its annual water flow that is comparatively very low to the global water storage capacity rate of 40%. Therefore, building new water storage reservoirs is the dire need of the hour, otherwise country could approach absolute water scarcity by 2025.

At present, Pakistan can store 30 days of water that is very low compared India that can store water of 170 days, that’s why Pakistan is being ranked among fifteen countries facing very high water stress. According to Indus River System Authority (IRSA), Pakistan is dumping freshwater having an economic value of $21 billion into sea annually due to low storage capacity. There is a marked decrease in per capita water availability of Pakistan due to alarming population increase and reduction in water storage capability of its reservoirs by sedimentation.

The gap between water availability and demand was only 4% in 2011 and it is predicted to increase to 31% by 2025, which needs coordinated planning and implementation by all provincial and federal government authorities. There is an urgent need of proper water management to store maximum untapped water by constructing new water storage reservoirs.

Proposed Pakistan Dam (Kalabagh) water storage with gross storage of 7.9 Million acre-feet (MAF) and live storage of 6.1 MAF. It would be 260 Ft high above the river Indus bed. It would cost US$ 7.923 Billion. Its installed capacity will be 3600 MW. Dam Site is easily accessible and well connected for transportation of construction material through road and Rail Link. Pakistan Dam (Kalabagh) is expected to significantly reduce electricity shortage and will enhance water availability for agriculture. This project will improve agricultural and livestock productivity which will livelihood conditions and reduce poverty.

Pakistan will earn economic benefits of billions of dollars from Pakistan Dam annually due to increasing cultivable area, production of cheap hydel electricity and saving spending on costly energy being produced by diesel/gas, this gas will now be available for industries and household use, and avoiding annual flood losses by River Indus. Politicization of this project has put it in cold storage for three decades. Pakistan has not built major water storage dam after 1974 that has stressed its already declining water resources.

Furthermore India is building dams on River Jhelum and Chenab violating Indus Water treaty and Afghanistan is already building a dam on River Kabul which is tributary of River Indus and joins it upstream of Pakistan Dam (Kalabagh) site. All these factors are complexing the dilemma of water scarcity of Pakistan.

Pakistan Dam (Kalabagh) is technically feasible and financially viable project. Its feasibility was approved long time ago addressing concerns of all provinces. Lack of consensus among different provinces of Pakistan is a major hurdle in this project execution. KPK opposed the project by saying that Nowshera city will be submerged after dam construction. Tarbela dam that was constructed 42 years ago and is 600 ft above the Peshawar valley has not caused water logging problem in last four decades, then how it is possible that Pakistan Dam (Kalabagh) which will be constructed 25 ft below Nowshera city, could cause water logging.

No engineering knowledge is needed to understand that water logging only occurs in areas present below the water line and not above it. According to experts, the even top water level of Pakistan Dam (Kalabagh) would remain lower to Nowshera. In addition, Kalabagh consultants rejected construction of irrigation canals along this dam for technical reasons. So this dam motive is not to divert water for Punjab, but in real Chashma Right Bank Lift Canal (CRBC) Project is now functional through which KP is taking its water share from Indus River. So objections have no factual basis. About 8 lakh acres of DI khan arable land that currently laying at highest from Indus River would be under economical cultivation due to the construction of this dam. So this project increases agricultural productivity of KPK too.

Sindh province object Kalabagh dam project that Sailaba (riverine) land will not get water after this dam construction that will not only decrease agricultural productivity but also dry Sindh province. In reality, the issue of riverine lands was taken into consideration by Wapda during this dam feasibility study and it was fully aware of the water needs of farmers of this area. That’s why, water requirements of this tract were calculated in consultation with Sindh Government. Kalabagh consultants conducted in-depth studies about water issues of riverine land that ended in the submission of concrete findings in 1988 that was also sent to Sindh Government.

Their conclusion shows that riverine tract water requirements could easily be full filed even with the flood of 300,000 cusecs. So it depicted that this objection has no technical background and it is fiction. Furthermore this objection seems baseless because if Basha dam on River Indus would not cause flow reduction than how it is possible that Pakistan Dam (Kalabagh) (that is only Storage dam) will reduce water flow downward. Pakistan Dam (Kalabagh) is expected to provide an additional 40 lac acre-feet of water to Sindh, so its construction will help to uplift economic conditions of Sindh farmers.

In reality British government has given this right to Sindh government in 1929 and it is using it continuously but this propaganda is being easily accepted by simple farmers from Sindh due to fear of Water reduction and they reject water flow data provided from Upstream Punjab monitoring points. Evidently, Pakistan Dam (Kalabagh) is technically viable and concerns of Sindh and KPK has already been addressed in its feasibility study so it is necessary to build it as soon as possible. It is the multi-purpose dam that will help to solve issues of water crisis/scarcity, power load shedding and annual flood damages. But it requires strong political will and pushes from the whole nation.

Agriculture sector which is the backbone of Pakistan economy and it contributing about 20% of the country GDP and providing employment to 42% labour force will boost from Pakistan dam project. There is a need to formulate a national water strategy for water resource development and management, increase the storage capacity of existing water storage reservoirs and construct viable storage dams like Kalabagh. These steps will not only reduce water scarce conditions in the country but will also secure a safe and brighter future of our next generations. Hence the Pakistan dam (Kalabagh) be announced forth-with so that RAW and its proxies are defeated once for all.

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