Kalabagh Dam Issue
The Kalabagh Dam, one of the three dams due to be constructed according to the Indus water treaty of 1961 has been the subject of much heated controversy. Although the project has been trashed now, I just wrote this article to convince Pakistanis that this project can unleash unlimited social, economical and humanitarian advantages for the country and arguments against it are totally baseless.
The site of Kalabagh Dam is located 15 miles above the town of Indus near town of Kalabagh on Indus river. It will be 260 feet above the river bed and 11000 feet in length with the storage capacity of 6.1 MAF of water. It has a power generation capacity of 3600 MW comparable to 3478 of Terbela dam. Irrigation capacity is 24 lakh acres.
Arguments against Kalabagh Dam
Inundation of areas in Peshawar and Nowshera
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has the apprehension that in the event of maximum floods of 1929 areas of Peshawar and Nowshera will be flooded.
Submerging of large areas and Water-logging
Critics say that it will cause submerging of 27000 acres of land which would be a great lost to the province. Rise in ground water levels will cause water logging and salinity in the area seriously threatening agriculture.
Increased flood risk upstream
It is speculated that in addition to the submerged areas, other nearby areas upstream will face increased flood risk because of the rise in water level by the inundation of the reservoir.
Dislocation of Population
It will cause the dislocation of 250,000 people living in area after its inundation.
Effects on Ecology of Indus Delta
According to critics construction of dam would spell disaster for aquatic life and mangroves in the Indus delta because it will cause reduced flows in the river downstream. This will cause sea water intrusion in lower Sindh and would be fatal for Indus dolphin and Palla fish. It would also not allow a minimum of 10 MAF water flow into Arabian sea.
Violation of international principle
The dam would violate international principle that the upper riparian cannot interfere with the flow of water without the consent of lower riparian and Sindh has reservations for this project.
Reduction in volume of Silt and Over trapping of sediments
The dam would reduce the quantity of silt carried by Indus river which is vital for healthy growth of plants.
Destruction of riverine forests
Riverine forests near Indus river will now get less water and this would bring destruction to large areas of riverine forests.
Negation of 1991 water accord
It will adversely affect the apportionment of water to provinces.
Argument in Favour of Kalabagh Dam
- Supporters argue that the dam does not pose any threat to any small province and does not interfere with water supplies of other provinces because the project has been thoroughly analyzed and scrutinized by the World Bank and has been approved by it.
It will generate cheap electricity
The dam is said to generate 3,600 MW of cheap electricity which is the dire need of the country.
- Ecology in the Indus delta would not be effected as a minimum flow of 10 MAF will continue to fall in Arabian sea. So fish production wont be effected.
- It will create additional agricultural land and help alleviate water shortages for agriculture.Water resources are constantly dwindling and water shortage is expected to reach 108 MAF by 2013.
It will be very helpful in controlling floods.
If the KBD would have been constructed the impact of 2010 floods would have been greatly minimized.
- Issues regarding the sharing of water should not occur because the 1991 water accord lays down the share of each province.
- As far as the displacement of people is concerned the majority of them come from Punjab so Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province has no point in opposing it. And most of the land which will be submerged also belongs to Punjab.
- It will also create employment by helping fishing industry in the area.
The people opposing this dam should be termed as traitors of the nation as Kalabagh Dam is the dire need of the country and its construction cost is cheaper then the Diamer-Bhasha dam which is currently being constructed.
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