LAHORE - One million acre feet of water gives benefit of $2 billion annually to the economy while Pakistan is throwing away 35 million acre feet of water just because of delay in construction of Kalabagh dam (KBD), implying the country is wasting $70 billion annually - equal to the country’s external debt.

The KBD was due to be completed in 1993 that mean that delay in its construction has already cost $288 billion to the country. Joke of consensus on Kalabagh dam should be stopped and the government should take final decision of its construction.

It was upshot of the speeches delivered at a seminar on “Water & Energy Crisis & Solution” at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry (LCCI). LCCI President Abdul Basit, Pakistan Engineer Congress President Ch Ghulam Hussain, Amin Jarwar, Muhammad Suleman Khan, Suleman Najeeb Khan, Nisar Safdar, Engineer Sohail Lashari and Col Abdul Razzak Bugti spoke on the occasion. All the experts lamented that Kalabagh dam is being sacrificed to the vested interests despite the fact that it is not just the name of a water reservoir, it is the name of a flood-saviour, it is the name of an energy-producer and it is the name of drought-avoider. They said that the government should not bow down to those who always remained paralysed to the Indian water aggression and are protecting the interests of Pakistan’s enemies.

Basit said that Kalabagh dam should have been built soon after the Indus Water Treaty because it was inevitable after losing the rivers Ravi and Satluj to India but the past governments ignored it completely. He said that underground water level has been gone more than 80 feet below due to plantation of tube wells in the valleys of Ravi and Satluj.

He repeated that one million acre feet of water gives collective economic benefits of $ 2 billion. Kalabagh dam will store 6 million acre feet of water and will give benefit of $12 billion annually to the economy. He said that Bhasha and other dams should also be built but these are not alternative to the Kalabagh dam as even after Basha and other dams, five districts of KP including DI Khan, Tank, Banu, Lucky Murawat and Kurk would be facing water scarcity. Technically only KBD can supply water to these areas. He said that KBD will produce 3600MW or 31.5 billion watts of electricity that would cost only Rs2.50 per unit and the country would be saving $4 billion annually in account of electricity generation just after five years of KBD construction.

The LCCI president said that KBD will avoid tragedies like Tharparker while it will also give 2.6 million acre feet of water to Sindh, additional water to Dera Murad Jamali, Sibbi and Dera Bugti of Baluchistan and will also overcome the destruction caused by deadly floods every year.