Lahore
Although the Sindh is considered to have always been opposing the construction of Kalabagh Dam yet the Pakistan Engineering Council Chairman Engr. Syed Abdul Qadir Shah, the brother of Sindhi leader Syed Khurshid Shah, favoured the Kalabagh Dam , saying the huge floods damages could have been averted if large dams, including KBD, were constructed.
“The country suffered a loss of $ 15 billion as a result of 2014, 2010 and 2011 floods, shattering households, damaging infrastructure and standing crops, which all have been averted if the country had constructed mega dams like Kalabagh Dam during the last three decades to preserve floodwater. It is high time that the construction of Dasu, Diamer Bhasha, Kalabagh and such other dams is under taken without wasting any more time.
Engr. Syed Abdul Qadir Shah, Chairman of Pakistan Engineering Council, said while addressing a ceremony held on Sunday to mark the World Water Day, 2015, organized by Pakistan Engineering Congress Lahore.
Engr. Abdul Qadir Shah, who belongs to Sindh and brother of opposition leader Syed Khurshid Shah, recommended in his presentation that there is no substitute to the construction of mega dams, including KBD for conservation of water especially the water from abnormal rains and floods, dispelling the impression that the whole Sindh is not against Kalabagh Dam .
He suggested the government to carry over dams to sustain sailaba farming and groundwater recharge. Small dams may also be constructed wherever possible while the lining of canals, water courses should be speeded up. He said that the concept of inflatable dams may be started as a pilot project.
He said that the country did not construct any large dam after Mangla, Tarbela, Chashma and Ghazi Brootha although the World Bank experts had advised that at least one mega dam may be constructed in each decade. “Our utilized water resources capacity is only 10% against world’s bench mark of 40%. The result is that the country is caught in water and energy crises. China has launched a multi-billion man made 1400 KM long river to divert water from South to North to meet the water requirements of Beijing and other areas of Chinese North.”
The per capita water availability in 1951 was 5263 (m3), stood reduced to 1064 (m3) in 2010 and is estimated to be around 900 (m3) by 2020- a stage of water starved country. Increase in population cannot be made an excuse as China with a population of over a billion people has still per capita water availability of 2200 (m3).
Over 1.2 million tube wells are engaged in mining of groundwater resulting in steep decrease in water table as the recharging of the aquifer is highly inadequate.
It has been estimated that about 40 MAF of ground water is being mined, thereby lowering the water table to a critical level, as well as polluting it. It is mainly due to the non-construction of mega reservoirs.
Engr. Iftikhar Ahmad, President of Pakistan Engineering Congress, said that the significance of marking this day is directly linked with the vital importance of water in life of people and it was, therefore, the United Nations Conference on Environment Development, in 1992 declared 22nd March as World Water Day.
It is due to this vital importance of Water that Pakistan Engineering Congress commemorates World Water Day every year on 22nd March since 2005 along with the world, where technical papers are presented at the event and are printed in a book form and the recommendations made by the learned authors of these papers are formulated by a panel of experts, which are conveyed to the Federal and Provincial Governments for their consideration and implementation.
Meanwhile, LCCI Standing Committee on KBD Chairman Abdul Basit has welcomed the announcement of Sindh in favour of Kalabagh Dam , saying the dam would benefit Sidh the most, as the province would get additional 4.75 million acre feet of water while Punjab would receive additional 2.04 MAF, Balochistan 1.56 MAF and K-P 2.01 MAF.
Abdul Basit said that the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry has been running campaign to pave way for the construction of Kalabagh Dam , which is a lifeline for the country’s future. The chamber is holding seminars and discussions with experts to clear any misunderstandings impeding its materialisation.
He noted that shadow of doubt is looming large over the future of the long-delayed Diamer Bhasha Dam, as this mega project has been declared as controversial and consequently delayed or abandoned. Hence, the construction of KBD is of utmost importance to get rid of electricity shortage, closure of industry and unemployment.