The incumbent government claims that it placed special emphasis on generation of electricity to counter load shedding in the country. However, much of this effort has been on generating electricity from sources other than hydel power. The cost per unit from alternative sources is much higher, for example, high speed diesel RS 17.14/unit, coal 12.87/unit, furnace oil 11.05/unit, solar 16.75/unit, wind 16.63/unit. Unfortunately, except for building the Mangla and Tarbela dams decades ago, no government has placed importance on hydel power generation, more specifically building the Kalabagh dam (KBD).
This proposed dam could store 7 billion cubic meters of water as well as produce 3600 megawatt cheap and pollution free electricity. The proposed KBD had many advantages due to easy access, the cost of transportation, construction material, and machinery would have been less than any other project of equivalent magnitude (e.g., Diamir Bhasha dam). Moreover, Kalabagh is close to the consumption centres both in terms of irrigation and electricity, which would ensure efficient distribution of water and power with minimal losses. It would also help manage floods due to heavy monsoon rains, which according to climate experts have shifted to Indus zone.
According to experts the current design of proposed KBD would not have any adverse effects on the KPK near Nowshera. Most experts agree that Baluchistan and Sindh had benefitted most from the Mangla and Tarbela dams in terms of increased water share for irrigation. Similarly, the KDB would have positive impact on South Punjab, Southern KPK, Sindh and Baluchistan. The time, energy, and resources the government has invested in building fancy Orange train and metro buses, I wish it had spent a fraction of that on critical projects like KBD also. One can only hope and pray that all stakeholders would come to an early consensus on the KBD, which is vital for our survival.
Islamabad, February 21.