LAHORE-Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) Chairman Zafar Mahmood has suggested to the government that Sindh should be given a more powerful role in the IRSA to get its nod for construction of the Kalabagh Dam.

He was addressing a panel discussion on KBD organised by Pakistan Engineering Congress (PEC) here on Tuesday. PEC President Engineer Chaudhry Ghulam Hussain also spoke on the occasion.

Stressing the need for forging inter-provincial consensus on the controversial issues, Zafar said that Sindh and KP did not have any objection to the construction of KBD; they only fear the water levels of the dam.

He contended that if consensus could be developed on the construction of two major dams, including Tarbela and Diamer Bhasha, then why is there objection to the KBD, which has more power generation capacity?

The WAPDA chairman explained that purpose of writing a book on Kalabagh Dam was to create awareness among people about facts related to the mega project. “We should focus on truth rather than blaming each other. The provinces blame each other but ignore the facts,” he deplored.

He said that everywhere in the world, water related issues were controversial.

Zafar pointed out that sense of insecurity in the provinces and their lack of trust was the biggest hurdle in the construction of KBD. “Stories have overshadowed the facts in this case,” he regretted.

“I have faced no criticism from the stakeholders of Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhawa while writing on KBD,” he said, and added, “Only some MNAs criticised me in the National Assembly on my writings on KBD.”

PEC President Engineer Chaudhry Ghulam Hussain, while terming the Kalabagh Dam a lifeline for the country’s future, said that if built, electricity generated in the Dam annually would be equivalent to 20 million barrels of oil otherwise needed to produce costly thermal power.

Hussain said that new storages will help improve the diminishing per capita water availability, increase GDP, control floods besides ensuring availability of cheap environment friendly hydel power to overcome the energy crisis.

He said Pakistan’s water storage capacity would last for 50 days whereas Egypt was left with the storage capacity for 700 days; China is a huge country with a huge population, and has the storage capacity for 500 days whether India has the storage capacity for 120-220 days.

We are facing horrible shortage of water. We have to build dams at any cost otherwise after 10-15 years, Pakistan will be the land of deserts. He said that a general consensus could not be reached as the dam issue has been much politicised. The civil society would have to play a crucial role in creating a larger consensus as new large water reservoirs would benefit every Pakistani, he said.

He said that another significant aspect connected with the construction is the surety of sufficient amount of electricity at a much cheaper price. “The capacity of the dam is equal to the capacity of 750 medium dams. The country’s dependence on power generated through thermal sources is costing us a lot and we face formidable challenges in both national and international markets.