The Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) chairman on Monday briefed a Senate body on the looming water crisis in the country, saying that the construction of the controversial Kalabagh Dam was "critical" in the face of the severe scarcity of water in the country.

Wapda Chairman Muzamil Hussain made the observation as he briefed the Senate Forum for Policy Research on the country's water crisis, highlighting the need for the urgent development of water reservoirs.

It is pertinent to mention that Pakistan is currently facing a severe scarcity of water and the country's name has appeared on a list of the world's 15-most water scarce nations at the fourth spot.

Hussain said the Kalabagh Dam will have the capacity to hold 6.1 million acre-feet (maf) of water and generate 3,600 megawatts (MW) of electricity.

The chairman additionally said that if construction of the Diamer-Bhasha Dam is not started by 2018, the water crisis may worsen.

"Punjab is willing to make necessary sacrifices for the Kalabagh Dam," former senator Mohammad Anwar Bhinder said in response.

"To consider the Kalabagh Dam project as anti-Pakistan is incorrect. It will benefit the whole country," he added, referring to the long-running political disputes over its construction.

However, Awami National Party leader Afrasiab Khattak asked that no further discussion take place on the controversial project as it had been "rejected" by three provinces.

Khattak said that every Wapda chairman had spoken about the dam, and regretted that such discussions were still taking place.

The forum, agreeing on the necessity to pay heed to the water crisis, decided to send a list of suggestions regarding the matter to the Senate.

"For 20 years various, water projects have been under discussion but nothing has been materialised," the forum said.

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