Today we are facing acute water shortage, and are facing El Nino effect as well, due to climatic changes resulting from the elimination of certain biological organisms. Our population growth rate is around 2%, which is one of the highest in the region. It is estimated that by 2025, Pakistan would become the fourth most populous country in the world. Imagine how hard it would become to feed such a big population with the shortage of resources, when we are already facing problems in providing basic necessities to the existing ones.
Since independence India has been creating problems for Pakistan in terms of the natural resources. For instance the Indus Basin Treaty and now a barrage on river Chenab, through which India would be able to stop or regulate water flow to Pakistan whenever it desires against the provisions of the treaty. On river Jhelum we have already built Mangla dam, which provides electricity and irrigation water for the entire country, through a network of barrages and link canals etc. Leaving these two rivers, the only other dependable source which seems to be outside the grip of India is the river Indus, over which we have built Tarbela dam, which stores only 15% of its water obtained mainly through snow melts in the Himalaya.
Silting of Dams
However the problem is that the lake of Tarbela is silting heavily and this silt load is estimated at 554000 tons per day. This amount of silt cannot be taken out from any reservoir; even if it is supposedly taken out, the problem would be where and how to store it. A silt delta has been formed in the reservoir having width between 31-65 Kms and 68 meters deep, located at 14 kms from the main embankment due to the sedimentation process. WAPDA has been able to contain movement of this silt delta so far, which otherwise could have moved in and choked all power generating turbines due to the seismic activity in the area. The danger is still there and in this regard Tarbela will not be able to serve as a multi-purpose reservoir and will only be suitable for irrigation purposes.
Controversy Surrounding Kalabagh Dam
It is stated that by the time Bhasha dam is completed, in 2016, the usefulness of Tarbela would almost have gone. The only economic option left at our disposal is Kalabagh dam, which is already late and has become controversial mainly due to socio-political misunderstandings, selfish assumptions, misgivings and apprehensions amongst the people of various provinces in the country.
Ironically, all the governments starting from late Z.A Bhutto, in order to lengthen their stay in power, have always avoided this technically feasible and economically sound option, which was declared to be a better site than Tarbela in the 1960s. Tarbela was brought on line first due to political considerations and preferences. It is, therefore, natural to think that national interests have been compromised. Jeopardized and manipulated for the sake of handful people with personal interest.
By year 2050, about 2/3 of the world population could be plagued by water scarcity. It is interesting that while water scarcity is strictly becoming severe, yet in most water-scarce regions large quantities of water flow into the sea remain unutilized.
Technical and Socio-Political Issues
The constraints in the implementation of Kalabagh dam can be describes as technical and socio-political. Almost all technical issues and concerns raised by the upper and lower reparians have been taken care of in the shape of design adjustments, while the socio-political factors remain unsolved to date, and are being exploited by those having vested interests. There are also misplaced fears in the general public of flooding of Peshawar valley and Nowshera along with negative impact on the drainage in areas of Mardan, Pabbi and Swabi. Lower reparians feared desertification of Sindh, non-availability of surplus water to fill the Kalabagh reservoir, negative effects on cultivation of riverian areas, sea water intrusion, mangrove forests and diminishing of fish resources below Kotri.
Concerns regarding Kalabagh Dam have been fully analyzed by WAPDA an almost all of them are not sustainable considering the magnitude of benefits available to a large population of this cursed country. Benefits also include availability of water for entire Rabi, sowing and maturing of Kharif crops, 2600MW electricity and flood alleviation between downstream and Indus-Punjab confluence. The Water Appointment Accord of 1991 reflects consensus of all the four provinces over issues of new storage on Indus and other rivers. This should serve as the starting point for the construction of Kalabagh dam. The World Bank has funded projects like SCARP and NDP, which were to the tune of billions of dollars, but they failed to bring about desired economic benefits to Pakistan, because of wrong assumptions, corruption, malpractices and misplaced interests of the World Bank managers.
The severity of recent flooding in Khyber-Pakhtunkhawa is a direct result of excess water coming from the rivers. Kalabagh Dam would have prevented this catastrophe. Dams like Kalabagh would allow for better water management. Dams could direct the water flow to the world’s largest canal system and take it away from the flood pains. The loss of lives of around 500 people must be attributed to those who have opposed Kalabagh Dam and other such projects. Nationalist political parties in Sind and KP are major culprits. Due to their opposition to the dams for selfish personal gains, they must be taken to the task by those who have suffered as a result.
There is no denying the fact that in addition to bringing adown population growth rate and making Kalabagh dam, other feasible reservoir sites must also be exploited to utilize the invaluable Indus water, for irrigation and power generation, which flows almost unused into the Arabian Sea during summers. This is our lifeline and the only option for our economic survival.
Therefore, introduction of effective demand management through adaptation of mechanism for forecasting water availability is needed for adjusting water demand to water availability and developing criteria for water allocation.
Source:Weed Nedia Blog