LAHORE - Kala Bagh Dam is not a political issue but a question of economic decision making. There has never been any objection on its technical viability. It will repay its cost in 3-5 years. The Parliamentary Committee on Water Resources had reposed confidence in the findings of the Technical Committee on Water Resources, whose seven out of eight members have supported the construction of Kala Bagh Dam.

This was stated by Tariq Bucha, Convener of Pakistan Farmers Alliance, who supported the recent decision of Chief Justice Lahore High Court and expected that govt will implement decision, as India has built controversial Sardar Sarowar Dam on Narmada river according to the instructions of the Indian court.

He asked political parties to clarify their positions on Kala Bagh Dam, which will not only add to water availability but will also provide cheap hydel electricity. He said that Bhasha Dam completion is not possible in the next 20 years whatever the government or its representatives claim. He asked the farmers to vote only for those who support Kala Bagh Dam construction. The consensus is already there in the Water Accord of 1991 hence no new consensus is required, he added.

He said the decision of Lahore High Court has also brought to light decisions of the CCI favoring Kala Bagh Dam.

“We demand that those who kept the decisions away from the public for such a long time be brought to book. Kala Bagh is compulsory being the basis of The Indus Water Treaty of 1960. The replacement component of the Rivers Beas, Sutlej & Ravi can only be transferred to the affected areas of Punjab if dams are continuously constructed on the Indus River. Dams start silting up and loosing capacity from the day they become operative. Today Tarbela has lost 35pc of its capacity after 45 years. This falling capacity necessitates building of new dams to ensure the replacement component to Punjab. If lost capacity is not replenished how can the replacement component be ensured to the deprived areas of Punjab?”

“Today if we had been only relying on run of the river flows, there would be hardly 15,000 cusecs of water available at Guddu. It is only because of dams that Guddu flows are 45,000 cusecs. Saying that ‘Punjab cannot be trusted,’ and that Punjab will take all the water stored in Kala Bagh Dam, is a farce and has no justification behind it. Today when there is only 35000 cusecs flow in the Indus River and Punjab has the capacity to withdraw 60,000 cusecs, it has never taken out more than its share.”

Dr Bucha said that political rhetoric is not the answer. If Kala Bagh Dam is not acceptable than Punjab should rethink its future course. How can the 1991 Accord, which allows Kala Bagh Dam under Para 6 be implemented without it.

If Kala Bagh is not built in the next 10 years how will the Water Accord be implementable after a loss of 9 MAF and gain of only 6 MAF by Kala Bagh, he asked. He said that the Accord is neither sacrosanct nor acceptable and also not implementable.