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September 5, 2010



September 5, 2010

Debate on the utility or otherwise of a proposed big dam at Kalabagh on the mighty Indus River has resurfaced in the aftermath of widespread devastation in the country caused by floods.
It is natural for technocrats such as former WAPDA Chairman Shamsul Mulk, to reiterate their views that long-shelved Kalabagh Dam could have curtailed, if not altogether averted, the catastrophe caused by worst-ever flooding in the country.
Experts like Shamsul Mulk believe the dreaded waters over-swollen Indus and its tributaries could have been used for national development, if stored in big reservoirs. The hexa-genarian Shams is not alone in emphasising that had Kalabagh Dam been built, flooding in Sindh and Khyber-Pakhtunkhawa could not have occurred on the present scale.
Federal Flood Commission Chairman Zarar Aslam, also supports Mulk’s contention although leading personalities from Khyber-Pakhtunkhawa and Sindh oppose Kalabagh Dam. Mulk points out the flooding waters could have been tamed in big reservoirs to irrigate the parched lands during the summer.
So far, according to the Federal Flood Commission, 1,637 persons have been killed and 2,428 injured while deaths from the ensuing pandemic are yet to be counted. The data shows that as many as 647,112 houses have been destroyed or partially damaged and a whooping number of 8,635,181 persons affected across the country.
Likewise, 4,385,648 acres of cropped and 4,769,917 non-yielding acres of land have been affected. Amidst the national grief over the colossal damage, there is emerging a strong urge for the construction of mega water reservoirs. In fact, the saner voices like Mulk have been urging for these reservoirs since the last two decades.
Supporting Mulk’s contention, Zarar Aslam, Chairman Federal Flood Commission (FFC) says lack of storage capacity on the Indus was a major cause of the flooding and the resultant devastation. “Had there been dams like Kalabagh on the Indus, the

damage could have been avoided,” adding that Pakistan stored only 12 per cent of its surface water flows against the international standards of 40 per cent.
District Nowshera, the worst hit province of KP, agree both Mulk and Aslam could have been saved from inundation if the Kalabagh Dam was constructed as the project also contain building dykes for the city’s protection.
According to Flood Water Commissioner the economic benefit of one million acre feet (1 MAF) of water had been estimated at Rs6 billion, which meant that at least Rs250 billion had been lost this year. Aslam estimates about 40 MAF of water may have gone into the sea although exact estimates would be made by the Indus River System Authority (Irsa) when exceptionally high floods passed Kotri Barrage over the next few days.
Responding angrily to the age old contention of Nowshera’s inundation with the Kalabagh Dam, Shamsul Mulk confers this propaganda on the Indian lobby to avoid any obstacle for her building the world fourth largest dam Kargil on River Sindh besides the disputed Baglihar Dam on Chenab River. India is constructing over two dozen dams on rivers Jhelum and Chenab in addition to the four large dams along with other 16 dams on different locations. But, here in Pakistan, unfortunately in the last 40 years after the commissioning of Tarbela Dam, no other mega reservoir can be built.
In the deadliest floods of August 29, 1929, the level was recorded at 951 feet while the recent floods broke the record by a margin of ten by rising to 961 feet.
Experts believe the devastation could have been worst and much more widespread if the Tarbela Dam had not stored 233,000 cusecs water on July 30. In a reverse scenario, flash floods of 136,000 cusecs could have hit Sukkur. Kalabagh has the capacity to store 55 feet of water and can turn flash floods into ordinary summer flood.
Pakistan is included in the water scarce countries and has the least water storage capacity. United States has water storage for 900 days, China has for 200 days, and India for 170 days while Pakistan has water storage capacity of only 30 days.
One solution to our myriad problems is to build Kalabagh Dam. Engineer Mumtaz Ahmad Khan says according to the new design, kalabagh dam will be having a height of 915 feet, with a storage capacity of 6.1 million Acre Feet (MAF). The water of the dam would be able to generate 2400 Mega Watt hydel power, which can be maximised up to 3,600 MW.

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