The Kalabagh dam is a mega water reservoir that the Government of Pakistan is planning to develop across the Indus River, one of the world's largest rivers. The proposed site for the dam is situated at Kalabagh in Mianwali District of the north-west Punjab province, bordering the North-West Frontier Province.
The dam project is highly controversial and has been since its inception. In December 2005, General Pervez Musharraf, President of Pakistan, announced that he would definitely build the dam in the larger interest of Pakistan. In May 26, 2008, Federal Minister for Water and Power of Pakistan. Raja Pervez Ashraf. has said that Kalabagh Dam will not be constructed. He said due to opposition from NWFP, Sindh and other stakeholders, the project is no more feasible.
|Kalabagh Dam Key Facts|
|Height (above riverbed)||79 m|
|Area at retention level|
|Gross storage capacity|
|Live storage capacity|
|Main spillway capacity|
|Design flood discharge|
|Hydropower generation||3.6 GW|
|Maximum discharge||(in 1929)|
|Total volume of dam|
According to the PC-II of the Project, Kala Bagh dam was initiated by GOP in 1953, and until 1973, the project was basically considered as a storage project for meeting the irrigation needs, and consequently, rapid increases in the cost of energy have greatly enhanced the priority of the dam as a power project. Because of the critical shortage of energy, some people are of the opinion that building Kalabagh dam is inevitable
The project's paperwork was finalised in March, 1984, with the assistance of the United Nations Development Programme; supervised by the World Bank, for the client Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) of Pakistan.
The delay is also being caused by the fact that according to international water distribution law, the tailender has a legal and natural right on river and that is why no mega construction or reservoir can be built without permission and endorsement of the tailender i.e. Sindh. In the case where the tailender is not using water i.e. building a water reservoir, a reservoir can be made upstream.
Impact assessments of the proposed dam have shown that while it will provide storage and electricity, the dam will also have adverse impacts on the environment, as can be expected from any large dam. It will also displace a large number of people. While proponents point to the benefits, the adverse factors have been played up by the opponents of the dam. As a result, the dam has been stalled by claims and counterclaims since 1984.
The controversy can be best understood by looking at the viewpoints of each of the 4 provinces.
The annual outflow of water into the Arabian Sea is considered a "waste" in Punjab, which feels that water can be used to irrigate infertile lands.
Punjab wants not just Kalabagh, but also two more large dams on the Indus, at Bhasha and Skardu/Katzarah. It feels that the Kalabagh site is the most favourable, compared to the other two, and that it should be built first. Bahalwalpur and Bahawalnagar will get most of the water stored in Kalabagh Dam.
On the other hands, Punjab has been severely hit by Kalabagh Dam being not built. In the early 1960s, Pakistan had agreed to a deal with India over the royality of rivers. That had given royality of two rivers Satluj and Biyas to India. Since than, the river Ravi, Satluj and Biyas are only used as flood release rivers by India. Pakistan government was allowed and funded to built this dam only because they had agreed such deal with India. Now Pakistan hasn't built the dam and has also barrened a large area of Punjab province by taking out three rivers.
Punjab's view is also based on the fact that a dam of above 3GW production can finish all the energy crisis of Pakistan. Overall, it will help Pakistan to grow further as electricity produced by water is cheapest compared to all other resources.
Punjab has also agreed not to claim any royality on generation of resources from Kalabagh dam, yet they are not trusted by other provinces. Unfortunately for all Pakistan, a technical issue is handled politically.
Sindh, the first province to point KBD project a blame game, is the lower riparian and strongest opponent of KBD. But its case mainly against Punjab is more on a conceptual basis of what Sindh thought to be "theft of water by Punjab" rather than locating an actual incident of theft. Sindh supports its argument by stating that by virtue of its name and history of water rights of the province, Indus River belongs exclusively to Sindh. Therefore, claiming the construction of dams, Tarbela and Mangla and now KBD actions of theft of water at the irrigation cost of Sindh. Further, Sindh presents many objections against the proposed dam, some of these objections are as follows:
The objection to Kalabagh in Sindh is widespread. Even political parties of Sindh that are in the central cabinet and are supported by General Musharraf, such as the MQM, have strongly denounced the dam.
All Pakistanis agree that Pakistan faces a severe water shortage, and that some form of water management must be implemented soon. Many point out that even if work on Kalabagh were to start tomorrow, it would still take at least eight years to complete and commission such a large dam. In the meantime, the water situation would continue to worsen. Smaller dams, barrages, and canals must be built before that, and water conservation techniques introduced.
The WAPDA for years repeatedly changed its statistics on the dam, to the point where no-one in Pakistan now believes any of its figures. Government of Pakistan formed a technical committee, headed by A. N. G. Abbasi, to study the technical merits of the Kalabagh dam vis-a-vis the other two. The four-volume technical report concluded that Bhasha or Katzarah dam should be built before Kalabagh, further complicating matters. To make matters even more complex, the report also stated that Kalabagh and Bhasha Dams could be considered feasible
The abrupt way in which President General Musharraf announced the decision to build the dam, simply overruling the objections of the smaller states, has sharply polarised public opinion.
The fact that the General literally dragged so controversial an issue off the backburner and thrust it into national centre stage without considering the predictable reactions from the smaller provinces has left many aghast. Much has been said in the press, and the issue is still far from being resolved.
On the 26th of May 2008, Federal Minister for Water and Power of Pakistan Raja Pervez Ashraf has said that Kalabagh Dam will not be constructed. He said due to opposition from NWFP, Sindh and other stakeholders, the project is no more feasible. It is also important to note that Raja Pervez Ashraf is a total Idiot