Revisiting Kalabagh

September 21, 2019


THIS refers to the letter on Kalabagh dam (Sept 14). It is a welcome change that the intelligentsia of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has started realising the importance of revisiting Kalabagh. Hopefully, owing to stark ground realities and further projections, this realisation will also soon dawn upon the intelligentsia in Sindh.

Further, after the catastrophic events of 2010, the misconception about the flooding of Nowshera by Kalabagh also stands removed. In this regard, the following points need to be noted.

The river Kabul originates from vicinity of Kabul city and thus derives its name accordingly. The main contributor to the river Kabul is the river Chitral, which after entering Afghanistan from Pakistan, is renamed as the river Kunur before joining river Kabul near Jalalabad.

The Water and Power Development Authority has already conceptually planned a diversion scheme of the river Chitral from Arandu to the river Swat via the river Dir. Therefore, this ‘tit for tat’ option will be available to Pakistan under the worst scenario.

From Jalalabad, river Kabul flows down and enters Pakistan at Warsak. The river Swat joins the river Kabul downstream of Warsak. At the stream gauging station of Nowshera before joining the river Indus at Attock, average annual runoff of the river Kabul is around 32 MAF. Out of this, about 25 per cent, i.e. 8 MAF water is generated from within Afghanistan while the remainder could be considered as contribution from Pakistan.

The Kama Irrigation Project near Jalalabad, with sizeable water consumption, has been planned by Afghanistan for long but awaiting implementation till cessation of internal civil war or insurgencies.

Though from Kabul to Jalalabad the river runs in deep gorges, this 100 mile length can be used for development of hydropower though a cascade of dams with significant storage capacity. It could provide substantial hurting capability against Pakistan similar to the extensive hydropower development under implementation or planned by India on the river Chenab.

In order to avoid the above ugly situation, the need for a formal water treaty with Afghanistan was stressed.

Engr Riaz Nazir Tarar


Published in Dawn, September 21st, 2019