LAHORE -  Founders Group of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry has said that Kalabagh dam should be built at any cost as it would ensure economic development of the country within the shortest possible time.

In a meeting, leaders of the LCCI Founders Group said that Pakistan direly needed cheap electricity, water for agriculture sector and prevention of devastating floods and it could be possible only through big water reservoirs like Kalabagh Dam.

Head of Founders Group Ijaz Butt, leaders of the group and former LCCI presidents Mian Muhammad Ashraf, Syed Mohsin Raza Bukhari, Iftikhar Ali Malik, Tariq Hameed, Sheikh Mohammad Asif, Mian Misbah-ur-Rehman, Shahid Hassan Sheikh, Mian Muzaffar Ali, Farooq Iftikhar, Ijaz A. Mumtaz, former senior vice president Abdul Basit, existing senior vice president Almas Hyder, vice president Nasir Saeed and other leaders of Founders Group also spoke on the occasion. Head of Founders Group Ijaz Butt and Mian Muhammad Ashraf said that Pakistan is one of those countries where water and power scarcity have become the burning issues. They said, “Rising population graph can also give birth to severe food security challenges in near future therefore we need to plan today for days to come.”

They said that country needs cheap electricity to run industries and sufficient water for deprived agriculture sector. They said that the fact should be an eye-opener for all that almost 9 million hectors of fertile land has remained useless just because of water scarcity. Pakistan needs grow to feed its population and only solution of this challenge is Kalabagh Dam which would also produce 3500 MW electricity initially at the rate of under Rs. 2 per unit.

“Benefits of Kalabagh Dam are almost countless. It would give advantage of around $14 billion annual to the national economy and this amount is enough to construct more dams, to give education to millions children, to provide best health facilities to the masses, to generate millions new jobs, to develop rural areas and for poverty reduction”, FG leaders added.

Ijaz Butt and Mian Muhammad Ashraf said that water resources in Pakistan are depleting rapidly and we cannot afford to waste huge amount of water to the sea. They said that Kalabagh Dam issue has been so much politicized that a consensus seems difficult and therefore, the government should take decision and start work.

“An opinion gained widespread support across the country that the losses of recent past floods in Pakistan which are estimated to be billion dollars could have been reduced if big dams and water reservoirs were in place”, they added.

The LCCI President said that Kalabagh Dam is the most feasible project for national economy that could be completed within five years. They said that political circles are talking about Bhasha dam construction of which 10 times more difficult than Kalabagh Dam.

They said that around $13 billion would be required for only construction of Bhasha dam while other expenses of billions would also be occurred besides the cost. For example, they said, around 150km area of Karakrum High way would have to be reconstructed with the cost of $6 to 7 billion and hundreds precious lives. They said that around $3 billion more would be required for transmission line from Bhasha to national grid. They said that collectively more than $20 billion would be required for construction of Bhasha dam.

Founders Group leaders said that Kalabagh Dam, is not only beneficial to Punjab alone but it would be more helpful in erasing poverty from Khyber Pakhtun Khawa as it would irrigate 800000 acres of cultivable land that is located 100-150 feet above the Indus river level in the province. They said this land could only be brought under cultivation if the river level is raised that is only possible if Kalabagh Dam is built.