The Kalabagh Dam – A Gold Mine for Pakistan

Although Pakistan is blessed with the great Himalayan and Karakoram Mountains to the north, with its great river drainage basin almost all flowing through the plains of Pakistan, yet Pakistan is an acutely water scarce country. This is because at partition, the British schemed with India to deprive Pakistan of its most important state of Kashmir. With the loss of Kashmir State, it was just a matter of time when India would have constructed dams on all the rivers flowing into Pakistan, and then starved Pakistan to death. That moment has now arrived. At this late point in time, Pakistan can either save itself by conserving all the water it can, or die a natural death because of the scarcity of water.

The Kalabagh Dam if constructed will be approximately 194 km due south of the Tarbela Dam, and approximately 16km due north of the Kalabagh city. The average annual flow of the Indus River at the Kalabgh Dam site is 138.69 MAF. The Kabul River contributes an average of 20 MAF to this flow, and the Soan River contributes an average of 16 MAF to this flow.

The Kalabagh Dam will be an earth fill 265 feet high, with water reservoir capacity of 6.1 MAF. The dam will have two spillways for disposal of excess flood water. The Dam will generate approximately 3600 MGWT of electricity at a very low cost of Rs 1.5 per MGWT, equal to 20 million barrels of oil required for thermal generation of power. This will accrue an estimated total annual saving of at least $4 billion per year in foreign exchange.

It is estimated that the total area suitable for agriculture in Pakistan is 77.1 MA. Out of this area the land under irrigation is only 44.4 MA. The additional area that can be brought under irrigation is 22.5 MA if the Kalabagh Dam is constructed. Of this additional agricultural land, 3.6MA will be in Sindh, 4.3 MA will be in Punjab, 3.0 MA will be in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, and 11.6 MA will be in Baluchistan.

Since 1987 hardly any major dam (with an exception of the Gomal Dam) above 200 ft has been built in Pakistan. Compared to this in the similar time span there have been 59 above 200 ft Dams built is China, 22 above 200 ft dams in Turkey, 6 dams above 200 ft in India, 28 dams above 200 ft in Iran, 35 dams above 200 ft in Japan.

According to inter-state agreement of the Pakistani State, Sindh and Punjab will be allocated 37% share each, with 13% each for KP and Baluchistan state. This is a most equitable distribution with Punjab whole heartedly agreeing to receive a lower share based on land and population to facilitate inter-state accord and harmony.

To construct and complete the Kalabagh Dam in the shortest possible time is of supreme importance for Pakistan. In fact it is a life and death struggle for Pakistan. If the Kalabagh Dam is constructed it will definitely save Pakistan from the impending water scarcity that has already arrived and will become more severe as the time goes on. It is a no brainer: Construct the Kalabagh Dam now!


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