Controversy on Kalabagh Dam

July 07, 2010

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The controversy regarding the Kalabagh Dam could be a result of lack of relevant information and distrust among the provinces. Two glaring examples to prove my point should suffice

1) Sui Gas has been used for over 50 years but abject poverty in the Sui area and the angry local population make things difficult.

2) Chashma Barrage was completed 35 years ago without rehabilitating thousands of landless tenants, poor farmers and their families uprooted from the katcha areas. The barrage has provided two mighty canals one to irrigate south Punjab and the other D. I. Khan without sharing irrigation water with Mianwali. It is also generating 185MW hydel power but Mianwali faced the worst voltage fluctuations for several years, even before the present power crisis. So benefits worth billions of rupees are being derived from Sui Gas and Chashma Barrage every year without sharing them with the local population.

As far as the Kalabagh Dam goes, it will have disadvantages that will require remedial measures.

In Punjab, the local population of the submerged and lake surrounded towns and villages between the dam and Attock Bridge will be uprooted.

The strategic rail 1ink between North West and South Pakistan via Mari Indus will be lost forever.

The busy and strategic road and rail link between Punjab and KP through Khushalgarh Bridge will be disrupted.

The local population of lowlands surrounding the lake too is likely to be uprooted due to salinity and water logging.

Output of the hydel power plant at Barotha may be adversely affected, depending upon the height of the dam. Therefore various advantages and disadvantages of the Kalabagh Dam should be identified for logical comparisons.

M. AKRAM NIAZI
Rawalpindi Cantt