LAHORE - Advocating early construction of Kalabagh Dam, the Institution of Engineers Pakistan has said the dam is inevitable for the progress and prosperity of the country, suggesting the government to get assistance of the army in this regard.

IEP Lahore centre chairman Captain (r) Engr Khalid Sajjad also appreciated the federal minister Ahsan Iqbal for assigning the IEP to initiate campaign and create consensus among all stakeholders on this mega reservoir, which will produce power at an average cost of Rs1.5/kwh. This cheap power will annually save approximately Rs300 billion due to reduction in costly oil imports, he said and added that saving alone would wipe out the current account deficit, boost reserves and strengthen the rupee.

He said the Kalabagh Dam issue has been so much politicised that a consensus would not be possible therefore the army would have to play its role to collaborate with the civilian government for early construction of this dam, as new large water reservoirs would benefit every Pakistani.  Engineer Khalid Sajjad said the dam would wipe out loadshedding and increase industrial output by $5-6 billion a year. Its contribution to value addition in agricultural output could go up to $10 billion a year. The dam has the potential to wipe out poverty as the project will benefit every province.

The IEP Lahore chief said there was no threat to Nowshehra city as it is 150 feet above the water level. He said Kalabagh Dam, was not only beneficial to Punjab alone but it would be more helpful in erasing poverty from Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtun Khawa. The dam would irrigate 800,000 acres of land that is located 100-150 feet above the Indus river level in the province. He said this land could only be brought under cultivation if the river level is raised that is only possible if Kalabagh Dam is built.

He said the other alternative is to pump the water, which is very costly. He said that creditable studies have indicated that pumping water for potential cultivable land would cost farmers Rs 5000 per acre per year while canal water after construction of Kalabagh Dam would cost only Rs400 per acre per year.