LAHORE - The construction of Kalabagh Dam is inevitable owing to acute shortage of energy, fast depleting irrigation water resources and frequent occurrence of floods.

“Acute electricity and gas shortage has not only crippled trade and industry but also brought widespread unemployment and poverty, observed IEP Lahore Centre chairman Capt (r) Khalid Sajjad. He maintained that hydel power generation is the only hope that overcomes energy problem, as it is the surety of sufficient cheaper electricity.

He said that electricity generation through thermal sources is estimated to cost almost Rs16 per unit whereas the same can be produced at Rs2.5 to Rs3 through hydel.  Only because of the government’s silence the country suffering an annual loss of Rs 132 billion, he said and added that the amount could be saved by initiating the project.

He said that the losses of recent floods in Pakistan could have been reduced if big dams and water reservoirs were in place. “There is an urgent need of bringing down the input costs for the agricultural sector as high prices are discouraging the use of fertilizers, pesticides and quality seeds in optimal quantity, negatively impacting per acre yield.” he said.

Water was major input for the agriculture sector but only 50 per cent of river water reached the farm gate through canals, of which 15 per cent is lost on field due to outdated irrigation practices, he said. He said that there was lack of confidence amongst the provinces on KBD, which should be restored to take up such decisions. Engineer Khalid Sajjad suggested that village electrification should be stopped immediately and electricity should be provided through solar system only and for this purpose banks should be involved for financial system like the banks were assisting villagers in Bangladesh and India for solar electrification.

Banks should be made critical partners and ownership registration should be kept, as guarantee with the bank and the bank will provide finance. The owner of the house will pay monthly installations as electricity bill. It is also suggested as a short-term measure that solar panel and inverter manufacturing factories be installed as on public-private partnership basis and engineering universities can be made partners of these ventures.

He proposed that small towns having population of 50,000 to 100,000 should provide electricity through local generation by public and private partnership or through co-operative scheme by formulating a society. To generate electricity under this scheme the renewable energy like solar, wind, biogas are best options. He recommended that presidency, PM House, Governor and CM houses and attached offices should be converted to solar instead of conventional supply. He also stated that use of gas water heater should be dispensed with immediately by replacing them with solar water heaters.