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Jang Economic Session : Experts stress need to build dams to avert flood disaster

By Our Correspondent
September 09, 2022

LAHORE:Kalabagh Dam (KBD) has always been the need of time in every government era and now after the current floods and rains, its construction has become inevitable. Sindh and KPK will benefit the most from the construction of the dam, and the share of Punjab is not much. Further, there is a need to continue work on other dam projects alongside starting the construction of Kalabagh Dam which is technically feasible and affordable power supply and water storage project.

These views were expressed by the discussants at Jang Economic Session on ‘Flood destruction - Kalabagh Dam again under discussion’. The panelists were Tahir Bashrat Cheema, Abdul Basit, Dr Saluhdin Ayubi, Afnan Butt, and Javeed Kasuri while moderated by Sikindar Lodhi.

Tahir Bashrat Cheema said that the construction of Kalabagh Dam is inevitable as like 2010 floods, Sindh and Nowshera and KPK suffered the most from floods.

It is necessary to restore KBD and other projects including LBOD and RBOD under Wapda 1958 Act. The biggest benefit from the construction of the dam will be Sindh and then KPK. In future, the saving of Sindh also lies in the construction of this dam. Technically, Kalabagh Dam is a feasible project in all respects, the height limit of which is 915 feet which will not risk of inundation of any area. Work on Kalabagh Dam had actually started during Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's tenure, after that no work could be done on it even during the tenure of General Zia-ul-Haq, General Pervez Musharraf and even any political government, he said.

Abdul Basit said the World Bank in Ayuab era suggested construction of KBD should be completed by 1990 while in 1975 machinery was shifted to the Kalabagh Dam on the order of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto after completion of Tarbela Dam.

However, the plan of construction of Kalabagh Dam was stopped from the time of Zia-ul-Haq until now. If the KBD was constructed, current flood water of 300,000 cusec from Kabul River and 250,000 cusecs from Terbela Dam could be controlled. This will not only prevent the flood but water stored in the KBD could also be available for the future crops of other provinces, he said.

Dr Saluhdin Ayubi said that floods are a reality.

Kalabagh Dam the most important need of the time is still a vague dream. Due to political interests of the successive the rulers, the situation has reached a point where the flood destructed the entire country.

The irony is that even this situation politicians are not paying attention to the construction of Kalabagh Dam or other dams. It is very important to formulate new policies keeping the global climate changes in mind. So, instead of making the construction of Kalabagh Dam politically controversial, all engineers, politicians, experts, economists and business community should be launched a campaign for its construction. Therefore, it is important to form an alliance to achieve this goal, and discourage all the negative elements that dominate the project, he said.

Afnan Butt said that flood disaster is result of own shortcomings the heavy rain in Sindh and Balochistan caused a lot of damage.

“This disaster was due as the nation did not built any dam in 50 years. Now it is most important that all the political parties hold a national dialogue on the Kalabagh Dam and take all the stakeholders on board, and that Continue the chain until a final decision is reached. Pakistan has water storage capacity only 30 days while India has about 365 days,” he said.

Javeed Kasuri said it was said that KP and Sindh will submerge with KBD construction, while it submerged without it.

The successive governments focused on their own agendas putting aside the national interests. Rains have also occurred in the Indian Rajasthan but have built dams so not suffered so much.

It is the responsibility of the state to build consensus on important economic issues at the national level, and it must fulfill its duty, he said.