IN blatant defiance of Indus Waters Treaty 1960, India has already started water aggression on the three western rivers — the Chenab, Jhelum and Indus — assigned to Pakistan under the treaty.

Looking at Indian plans, it is almost certain that India will create sizeable hurting capability to block water supplies during crucial periods and let it loose during high flow periods to cause flooding in Pakistan.

Similarly, with no water treaty between Pakistan and Afghanistan, India is already engaged in planning for sizeable water utilisation infrastructure on the Kabul river to tighten the noose around Pakistan’s neck. The only option available to Pakistan is the creation of storage on the Indus (Kalabagh) to establish its perspective right on the water of the Kabul river.

The oft-repeated technical objections to Kalabagh by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (upper riparian) and Sindh (lower riparian) also require a reappraisal in view of the experience gained since the start of 20th century.

KP’s main objection was that the dam’s construction would flood Nowshera valley. During 2010, Nowshera experienced one of the worst floods, but the cause of flooding was not the Indus but Swat river.

The Mohmand dam has been specifically designed to effectively control flooding caused by Swat river.

Sindh’s objections were based on the lower riparian syndrome of extreme water shortages and rendering the landscape into virtual desert.

It is a matter of record that during the post-Tarbela period (1977-82) Sindh canal withdrawals during low flow periods increased by about 25 per cent. Thus, the Kalabagh dam will further increase canal withdrawals of Sindh.

Another major benefit of Kalabagh dam came to light during 2010 super floods. A back-of-envelope computation indicated that in case Kalagagh was on-line during this event, it would have absorbed high Indus flood peaks to avert the disaster particularly caused in the lower Indus plain part of Sindh.

It is time Kalabagh was revisited by shedding previous political biases and regional controversies.

Riaz Nazir Tarar

Former General Manager, Wapda

Lahore

Published in Dawn, August 31st, 2019