Former Chairman WAPDA Shamsul Mulk’s assessment that in the absence of Kalabagh Dam, the country was incurring losses of up to Rs 132 billion per annum needs to be heeded by the government that has plunged the country into a veritable dark age. On the one hand we have political parties having their own understanding of the dam and on the other we have such engineers and scientists. Since we already know how much generally the politicians are educated especially when it comes to technical subjects, it would only be foolhardy to regard their opinion superior to that of engineers commanding respect in their respective fields.
There is hence, a reason to believe that opposition on the part of the parties like ANP and others in the Sindh is largely the result of their ignorance, and also because they lack good issues they can focus their politics on. They have time and again convinced the people in their constituencies that Kalabagh Dam means flood and displacement. It is a pity for instance that ANP leaders neither give arguments why they don’t want the dam nor they listen to anyone pointing out the advantages. Engineer Shamsul Mulk has again dispelled the impression that the dam could drown Nowshera, which should allay the fears of the local politicians. Secondly, according to him, it is the KPK that would gain a lot from its construction notably as it would irrigate tens of thousands of acres. So far as water division is concerned particularly the concerns of Sindh that Punjab would steal its share, the water accord of 1991 already has put together the procedure on how this could be done amicably. The accord actually meant consensus on KBD but since a lot of time has passed, it is necessary that the government must make a fresh effort to discuss the pros and cons of the issue, allay the fears of the opponents and go ahead with the construction. The argument that Bhasha Dam is the right substitute for KBD is flawed. Bhasha might not be bad for the country given the seriousness of the crisis but since it is going to take nearly 8 to 10 years, it would be too long a period for the country to suffer under loadshedding. And by that time the supply and demand gap would also have increased. Besides, Bhasha cannot prevent floods caused by Monsoon rains.
With its feasibility already done, Kalabagh Dam can be completed within a short span of 4 years. When almost every country with a river system is relying on large dams, why can’t we do the same? Tarbela and Mangla have almost completed their average life which calls for immediate construction of more reservoirs. The yearly losses of Rs 132 billion that Shamsul Mulk has pointed out is no small a price that we are paying for failing to build Kalabagh Dam.