LAHORE – Engineers at a seminar have unanimously asked the government to start construction of Kalabagh Dam to secure the future of the country.
The seminar was organised by the Pakistan Engineering Congress in connection to World Water Day on Saturday.
Speaking on the occasion, PEC Vice-President Engineer R K Anwar said that there was no substitute to mega dams for the conservation of water and that the construction of KBD should be started on fast track. Technically, he added, the KBD is the most feasible option to save water and generate cheap electricity. Anwar held that small and medium dams should be constructed all over the country to ensure safe water supplies to rural population. He proposed that government should establish a National Water Council comprising stakeholders to review the water requirements and infrastructure of the country. Pakistan also needs to use its waste water prudently to bring more land under cultivation, he stressed. Anwar feared that the country would witness vegetable shortage in a decade if the situation remained the same. In terms of starvation, among 88 countries, according to him, India is standing at 66th position while Pakistan is at 37th number.
Talking to reporters, Wapda Member (Water) Syed Raghib Abbas Shah said that construction of Bhasha Dam would start from next year and would take eight years to complete. Dispelling impression that the federal and provincial governments were not taking seriously the issue of water shortage, he said the construction of big dams was not an easy task and that the impediment in some cases was the unavailability of funds.
“WAPDA is working on small hydel power projects in all parts of the country to preserve water,” he said. To a question, he said that Indo-Pak talks on water disputes were resuming in the last week of March in India.
To another query, he said Wapda was working on the rehabilitation of the affectees of the Bhasha Dam and construction of model villages for the affectees was underway. The Authority witnessed a tough experience in process of rehabilitation of the affectees of Tarbela Dam, he said. He told the media that that donors agreed to provide funds of US $1.3 billion for the construction of Munda Dam.
Dr Allah Baksh Sufi said the food security in Pakistan had deteriorated since 2003 and half of the population did not have access to sufficient food for active and healthy life. The per capita water availability reduced from 5260 m3 (1951) to 1030 m3 (2010), he said.
The other engineers who spoke on the occasion demanded that the government should start work on the construction of water reservoirs including KBD on war footing.