Govt should not build small dams, says Abbasi
By Mohammad Hussain Khan
HYDERABAD: Eminent water expert and former chairman of the Technical Committee on Water Resources (TCWR) A.N.G. Abbasi said on Friday that small dams were more harmful than Kalabagh dam and advised the government to refrain from building them.
He said Kalabagh dam was not harmful if rules of the game were set and strictly adhered to. But since there were no rules, it was not acceptable to the people of Sindh, he added.
Addressing a conference on “Save River Indus”, organised by Sindh Democratic Forum (SDF) and Strengthening Participatory Organisation (SPO), Mr Abbasi said that at the time of partition, River Indus used to get 80MAF of water, but after the 1960’s Indus Water Treaty, it was being given 8MAF of water.
He said, under the treaty India was competent to even store floodwater. The treaty authorised it to irrigate 1.35 million acres of land, of which India had brought 800,000 acres under cultivation.
He said it was also entitled to build hydel project and it was not bound to share shortage of water with Pakistan under the treaty.
He said that since the NWFP and Balochistan were not bound to share water shortage, there remained no justification for them to be part of Indus River System Authority.
He said that whenever there was a shortage of water, Punjab always got maximum water in connivance with Irsa. He called for deciding operational measures of Greater Thal Canal before its construction should be allowed.
He said that the federal government had announced that Kalabagh Dam would not be built, but certain quarters still wanted its construction.
He said construction of dams was always linked with availability of additional water, but there would be no water available in future in our system.
He claimed Punjab got water from two link canals of River Indus which was equal to the storage capacity of two Kalabagh dams. Punjab was always adamant to lift this water, he said.
Sindh Assembly Speaker Nisar Khuhro said that Benazir Bhutto had staged a sit-in at Kammu Shaheed in Ghotki during her struggle for water.
He said the present government had announced scrapping of Kalabagh dam, but friends did not appreciate it.
STP chairman Dr Qadir Magsi urged technocrats of the province to guide people properly and be steadfast in their stand. He said River Indus belonged to the people of Sindh for thousands of years and people drew benefits from it.
He said that even British rulers avoided building reservoirs over River Indus after hearing objections of lower riparian.
Awami Tehrik president Ayaz Latif Palijo rejected People Party’s contention that since massive work had taken place on Greater Thal Canal, it could not be stopped.
Sindh Abadgar Board president Abdul Majeed Nizamani said that existing status of River Indus would have to be maintained at all costs.
RESOLUTIONS: The conference adopted following resolutions, supporting a Jan 24 call for River Indus Day by a local media organisation and urging people to gather in riverbed or on banks of its canals.
It appreciated statements of President Asif Ali Zardari and ANP chief Asfandyar Wali describing Kalabagh Dam against the interests of federation, Sindh and Pakhtoonkhwa. It called for scrapping Wapda’s Water Vision 2025 and plans of dams/cuts on Indus.It expressed concern over deterioration of Indus delta, saying that such degradation had multidimensional effect on people, millions of living creatures dependent on water, language and culture of delta population.
It urged the government to sign UN Protocol on “Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses” which demands from states sharing international rivers to release adequate water for all living beings and fish and to ascertain that deltaic environment is sustained.
Saturday, 23 Jan, 2010