The Chairman of WAPDA recently resigned from his post, citing personal reasons. Earlier, he faced criticism from some quarters for reigniting the controversial Kalabagh Dam issue, and sticking to it in spite of opposition from some stakeholders. He was also criticised for delaying approach to the extension of the Turbela-IV hydroelectric project. 

The plan to construct Kalabagh Dam was chalked out in 1954 but due to non-availability of funds and concert over the distribution of its water between four provinces, its construction was delayed. In December 2004, President Musharaf announced that he would build the dam to serve the larger interest of Pakistan. However, on 26 May 2008, the Federal Minister for Water and Power, Raja Parvez Ashraf, said that the dam would not be constructed and consequently the project had to be shelved due to opposition from the provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh. The present government must scrap the project once and for all for the unity of the federation. 

The new WAPDA chairman certainly has a lot of tasks ahead. As the current government’s term comes to an end, it is in a hurry to add as many mega-watts of electricity as possible to the national grid. He would have to expedite work on the ongoing power projects like Nelam Jehlam Hydro. He would also have to identify potential sites for construction of dams, besides going ahead with the planned Dassu and Pattan dams on River Indus. He should bring on-board the Khyber Pukhtunkhwa and Gilgat Baltistan governments for resolving disputes over land for the construction of Diamir-Basha Dam. 

Hopefully, the next Chairman of WAPDA will be apolitical with an aim of bringing the country out of the darkness. 

M. SAYYAD ALAM KHAN,  

Peshawar, August 23.