LAHORE - The delay in construction of Kalabagh Dam has greatly endangered the national economy, 99 percent people affirmed during a national referendum conducted by daily Nawa-i-Waqt.

The provincial assembly of the biggest province of Pakistan, Punjab, has already passed a resolution in favour of construction of the dam. The important issue of KBD is being politicised for the last three decades. This delay has caused severe shortage of food while a good chunk of foreign exchange is being spent on import of different eatables.

If this alarming situation continues, the national production could fall up to 43 percent, besides increasing load on thermal electricity.

The KBD, if constructed, will generate 3,600MW electricity which equals 20 percent of the energy demand. It will also solve the problem of shortage of irrigation water and effectively control floods in the country. It is not out of place to mention here that Pakistan has to face severe damages owing to floods every year. Currently, Pakistan is able to reserve only 45 days’ water, but after the KBD construction, it will be able to store water for 60 days and to save it for 105 days to irrigate crops. Thus, we can increase agricultural produce, boost industrial progress, generate new jobs and protect 300 miles area around the River Indus from floods. Pakistan has been importing food items worth Rs 200 billion which can be saved with the KBD construction.

Pakistan will become one of the countries which are hit hardest by shortage of water if KBD is not constructed. The trend of population growth in Pakistan shows that it will cross 200 million in 2020 and availability of water will be left only 877 cubic meters per capita. Any country with 1,000 cubic meters per capita water is considered as the country with water scarcity.

In 1951, the availability of water per capita was 5,260 cubic meters which declined to 4,159 in 1961. It was 2,883 cubic meters in 1971, 2,129 cubic meters per capita in 1981, 1,611 cubic meters in 1991, 1,250 cubic meters in 2,001 and will be only 751 cubic meters in 2020.

The Kalabagh Dam which can be constructed within six to seven years will generate power at the rate of sixty to ninety paisa per unit. India is constructing Kishanganga Dam within the next six years to control 90 million cubic feet water of the River Indus, which can control its 80 percent water. The construction of KBD would benefit the Sindh province by increasing per acre production.

Former Pakistan Engineering Congress president Engr Hussnain Ahmad said had Pakistan constructed any big reservoir 20 years back such an alarming situation would have been averted. Former member water Wapda, Husnain Afzaal, has also warned time and again on different platforms that rapid growth in population and reduction in water storage capacity owing to silt is creating water shortage. According to him, water reservoirs are a better source to generate cheap electricity.

Former Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry senior vice president Abdul Basit has claimed that the country had the capacity of generating over 100,000MW electricity.

He revealed India was spending over Rs 15 billion on anti-KBD lobby in Pakistan annually because it knew that after construction of the dam, Pakistan could bring about a revolution in agricultural and industrial sectors besides ending unemployment and energy crisis.