A Case Against Kalabagh Dam: Aziz Narejo

Filling in the Dots: Why PILDAT is Reviving Kalabagh Debate: Introductory Note by Kamran Shafi

Kalabagh Dam is a very bad idea indeed. If ONLY for the reason that 3 out of 4 federating units of this blessed country have rejected it.

I am familiar enough with the Mardan-Nowshera-Charsadda area well enough to know that when without this monstrosity there is water standing along the roads just three feet below the level of the road there has to be a big problem of water-logging already.

I can only hope that sense prevails and that our already frayed federation is not damaged further.

 We also must ask the question WHY an organisation whose goal is “to strengthen and sustain democracy and democratic institutions” in this poor country should re-raise a hugely contentious issue like the Kalabagh Dam? Which has been DEMOCRATICALLY rejected by three-fourths of the country.

This is not the first time that PILDAT has done this kind of thing – recall the “report” on the riches of our parliamentarians that PILDAT published just at the time when there were rumours afloat that the Establishment was about to move against the elected governments some months ago. Far more than that, there was no analysis – just a re-printing of the Election Commission’s data. In many cases the information was dated too, and had very little relevance to the present parliament.

Indeed if PILDAT was doing such a public service, why did it not publish the riches of our Air Marshals and Admirals and Generals and bureaucrats in comparison? (Kamran Shafi’s note courtesy criticalppp.com)

A case Against Kalabagh Dam – by Aziz Narejo

A recent seminar in Karachi organized by an NGO, PILDAT has again brought the issue of Kalabagh Dam to the fore.  Especially an irrational and unscrupulous statement at the seminar by IRSA chairman (from Punjab) has flared up the emotions among the stakeholders.

Actually he is not alone in this. There is a certain lobby in Pakistan, which continues to insist on the construction of Kalabagh Dam on Indus River ignoring the fierce opposition from the provinces of Khyber- Pakhtoonkhwa and Sindh.

The Kalabagh Dam project is undoubtedly one of the most controversial water projects in the country. If taken up, this project could prove disastrous for the country as it will further divide the people and become a constant source of internal strife. I request the readers to please consider the following points and see how prudent it would be to undertake the KBD or for that matter any mega dam project:

  1.  There is no extra water for any new dams or reservoirs in the Indus River System. During the past few years, there has been scarcity of water in the country and even the present dams have not been filled to capacity. The lower riparian province has suffered immensely due to the damming of Indus River. It can’t afford any more losses. Water expert, Engineer A. N. G. Abbasi proves this in his note in the report of the Technical Committee on Water and Power.
  1. Provincial assemblies of the three federating units have unanimously rejected the KBD.
  1. Indus River System Authority, IRSA, rejected the KBD on October 22, 1996 on the basis that:
  2. a) The Dam will be silted rather quickly.
    b) Its short life: 22 – 30 years.
    c) Poor performance.
    d) Comparatively lower electric generation capability.
  1. The short life of the dam and a diminished power generation potential would result in huge losses to the country’s exchequer. It is economically infeasible.
  1. The dam will displace a large number of people and inundate fertile lands in the Khyber- Pakhtoonkhwa and Punjab. Many more acreage will be lost because of water logging in Mardan, Swabi, Charsadda, Pabbi, Nowshera, Dhoda, Kharmatoo and other areas. It will also cause land degradation in the Peshawar valley and affect the sweet water aquifers in Karak and Lakki Districts.
  1. Additionally, the inhabitants of the low lying areas on both sides of rivers Indus, Sawan, Kabul and Tui will have to be shifted and given new houses and lands for settlement. These inhabitants are in hundreds of thousands and this will incur a heavy expenditure.
  1. It will cause backpressure in the River Kabul, resulting in the increase in water logging.
  1. Nowshera, a sizable city of Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa, will be threatened with termination or severe water logging, as it will stand 24 feet below the height of Kalabagh storage.
  1. Several bridges and roads including the Attock-Talagang road on river Sawan and the Kohat-Rawalpindi road and the Peshawar-Rawalpindi road on river Indus besides some railway tracks and other infrastructure will be submerged by the KBD.
  1. The Sui gas line between Peshawar-Rawalpindi and Rawalpindi-Kohat will also sink in the dam.
  1. The Mardan and Swabi SCARP projects will be affected.
  1. Possible backwater effects on the Ghazi-Barotha project.
  1. The dam will need about 19.5 MAF (for storage and the proposed irrigation canals) water.  That will further strain the availability of water in the country especially for Sindh and Balochistan. Some statements say that the design will be changed and no canals will be built. But nobody in Sindh believes it as WAPDA and federal authorities have a long history of broken promises.
  1. If the dam is built there will not be any water available for downstream Kotri in the future. As a result the Delta and the Katcha areas in Sindh will be destroyed and the sea intrusion will cause annual losses of billions of rupees to the Sindh economy.
  1. As the Dam will sit on a fault area, any earthquake can cause a disaster. Its proximity to Khewra salt mines only magnifies the problem.
  1. Other adverse effects:
  1. a) Deleterious impact on environment, ecosystem, biodiversity, habitat, wetlands and subsoil aquifers
    b) Intensification of drought and desertification
    c) Acceleration of poverty in the lower riparian province with increased rural to urban migration d) Drinking water problems
    e) Progressive, illegal decreases in share of Sindh in Indus River System waters, as is already the case.
  1. Sindh will continuously be blackmailed, as water taps will be controlled upstream.

Isn’t it in order to call for dropping the KB and other mega dams and looking for better alternatives?  This is a public appeal to all the people of the world to please impress upon the government of Pakistan to stop its genocidal policies.

Courtesy: Indus Herald

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