Sunday, September 19, 2010

Kala Bagh Dam:Why we must build it

Courtesy:Weed Media

According to the Indus Basin Treaty signed in 1960 between India and Pakistan, we had to surrender the three eastern rivers of Sutlej, Bias and Ravi, and were allowed to build reservoirs and dams on the Western rivers of Indus, Jhelum and Chenab. Pakistan was forced to accept an unjust principle of replacing perennial stream water, with man made reservoir water, which had inherent complications.

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.

Indian Role
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


Akhtar Wasim Dar said...

A fine informative post on our number one issue WATER.

ph_the princess said...

you should make feudal lords and govt read this so they might have some clue of the benefits we can have from dams .. especially the kala bagh *frowns* ...

P.S. you've got mashallah good knowledge :)

hera k said...

I love the way you write. So informative. I dont know how you manage to come up with such posts. I have always been in favor of the dam being built. Its sad that the common man protesting against the dam is infact unaware of who, what, where, how and why. They dont know anything about the issue. They just repeat whats fed to them through the media.

ReeBz said...

Princess and Hera K
thanks for your comments and for praising the article, but i would like to mention it once again that this article i have taken from WEED MEDIA blog owned by Floydian with his permission.
I mentioned the source twice in my post, once in the beginning and once in the end, I'm amazed that you didnot notice:-/

floydian said...

You too deserve the credit for this post as readers like you are my biggest motivation to research and write on serious issues. Btw I am indebted to you for sharing this on your blog. The only thing that really matters is to be able to get the message across. \m/

ReeBz said...

The article is so well-researched,full of information that it is worth-sharing! As you said that he only thing that really matters is to be able to get the message across.
Thanks for letting me share it and to inform more people by using the platform, of my blog!:)

Syeda Zehra said...

@ReeBz,as far I have read about this particular dam,it seems as is a failure project and isn't worth constructing.
The terrain which it is supposed to built houses a large population more over this dam.
here are some advantages of the construction of this dam:-
-Kalabagh Dam will generate/provide 3600 MW hydro-electric power (the
royalty of this power will be given to Punjab)

-The Dam will provide water for the irrigation of four million acres mainly located in the province of Punjab, out of which 380000 acres will be irrigated in Mianwali, Khushab and Jhelum districts and 2150000 acres will be irrigated in D.I Khan.

-Kalabagh Dam project will provide 35000 jobs.

-KB Dam is also essential because storage capacity of Tarbela and Mangla Dams is decreasing due to sedimentation.

But it's disadvantages are more than it's advantages.

-Kalabagh dam will not only store 6.7 MAF water of Indus but 12.8 MAF water will be diverted to left bank and right bank canals for the irrigation in Mianwali, Khushab, Jhelum and Dera Ismail Khan districts. Therefore the KB dam will be consuming 19.5 MAF water of Indus.

-Under the provisions of Water Accord of 1991, a quantity of 10 MAF has been provisionally earmarked for out flow to sea which in fact will not be available after storage at Kalabagh dam.

-Kalabagh Dam will be a grave threat to the fertile Peshawar valley and thousands of acres of NWFP=92s most fertile agricultural land will be destroyed. According to govt..=92s own figures a total of 35,000 acres of land will be inundated/submerged by the Dam, out of which 3,000 acres are irrigated while 27,000 acres are barani.

-As a result of rise of water level due to pounding up at Kalabagh, the water level in Kabul river will rise due to back water effect, thus posing serious threat to the Nowshera (a city of about 200000 people) which will be fully waterlogged within few years.

-Water quality will be polluted by salinity due to nearness of Khewra and Kohat salt formations.

****Shortage of water near, and in, the river's estuary would cause a lot of environmental degradation in the coastal areas, destroying Tamar (mangroves) and marine life as well as causing considerable ecological damage to the Indus in its lower reaches. Arabian sea water might travel upwards for considerable distances submerging/immersing large regions of lower Sindh.

So in my "opinion",instead of building this controversial dam,there is a need to build the 54 small dams that are in pending which would have more capacity and would produce ore energy than the lone dam.

Komal Ali said...

A very detailed and informative post, indeed. But all of this has been told by the media. Someone got to instill it in the brains of the opponents, too.

Muhammad said...

Even if there isn't a consensus on Kala Bagh dam the government should move on to build other smaller dams !!

Filpaki said...

Well!! how to teach those illiterate population of Pakistan who keep arguing, quarreling without any knowledge?they are just blind followers and do whatever they are directed to by their WADERA kINGS!!

smartyUsra said...

I think instead of getting into the fuss of PUNJAB and SINDH we must build the dam by being un biased! these sectorial differences and biases ahve already caused us alot of LOSS!!

floydian said...

Syeda Zehra
You said...
"The terrain which it is supposed to built houses a large population more over this dam."

The project will pay back its investment cost in a period of less than 10 years. Do you know that the project includes compensation for all affectees for their properties which include land, trees, buildings and other structures at market price in compliance with the Land Acquisition Act. It is proposed to offer alternative land with minimum 12.5 acres to the land owning families. This would require about 74,000 acres of irrigated land. Another major incentive for the affectees would be to fully compensate the farmers for the land on the reservoir periphery, above normal conservation level of 915 feet that could be flooded once in 5 years. This land would remain the property of the original owners for cultivation, with the undertaking that they would not claim any damages to crops for occasional flooding.

The comprehensive resettlement package proposed for KB is both more attractive than those adopted for Mangla and Tarbela Dams. The basic objective is that affectees should find themselves in a better socio-economic environment.

Hence arguments against the construction of KB dam seem weak and invalid without any solid foundations.

floydian said...

Where is the first part of my detailed reply to Syeda Zehra?

ReeBz said...

which part one :S? I got one comment from you and i published it immediately :S

floydian said...

@ Syeda Zehra
As far as NWFP is concerned, it should be kept in mind that KB dam has maximum retention level of 915.00, which is the Kabul river bed level near Akora, about 12 km downstream of Nowshera. The fear that Nowshera would be drowned is therefore baseless. The drains from Mardan and Swabi fall into Kabul River near Nowshera, upstream of the retention level and would not be affected. It must be kept in mind that NWFP will get the benefit of cultivating additional 1,29,000 acres wash land for agriculture purpose and due to this it can also reduce its wheat import from Punjab.

Relatively, much lesser area of the NWFP will be affected by the dam water, likewise much lesser population will be dislocated. Over hundred thousand acres barren area will be irrigated. The construction of dam will help control even the worst floods through manipulation/regulation at Tarbela and KB.

The province to benefit the most by KB is NWFP particularly DI khan Division whose hundreds of thousands acres of land are lying barren at present for want of water.
Fears of pollution by salinity due to proximity of Khewra and Kohat salt formations are absolutely dumb founded.

Kb would enable additional and improved irrigation supplies to all provinces, within a short period. As a consequence of conjunctive operation, it will enable enhancement of 600 MW of peaking capability and additional 336 million Kwh of annual generation at Tarbela. Hence, KB will augment irrigation supplies, hydropower and alleviate floods. Indirect benefits like more industrial and food production, employment and agricultural boost will accrue. The project will have a useful lifespan of 50 years, without requiring any major replacements of machine or equipment.

The Water Appointment Accord of 1991 reflects the consensus of all four provinces over the issue of storage on Indus and other rivers. This should serve as a starting point for the construction of the KB.

Why Large dams?
I finally conclude that our salvation lies in harnessing the available water resources to cogently irrigate the 54.5 million acres of existing agriculture area and incorporating as much as possible of the available 22.5 million acres of un-commanded land and for arranging generation of upto 5000 MW within shortest possible time. This can only be done through the creation of mega reservoirs on priority – which btw can only happen by building up of large dams alone. The reason behind large dams vs small dams is that there are false stories (without any empirical evidence) in public on the expected losses that can be occurred due to the construction of bigger and feasible dams like KB.

Constructing small dams aren’t even possible. Potential dam sites are not available on Sutlej, Ravi and Chenab. The only site at Jhelum river i.e. at Mangla has already been developed. Indus is the only river with surplus summer flows that could be conserved by building storage dams. Being one of the greatest (largest) rivers of the world, no small dam can be built across it. Moreover only high dams can create reservoirs of sufficient capacity to conserve required quantum of water. Even thousands of small dams could not possibly replace fraction of water released nor produce hydro power as by one large dam such as Tarbela. It is therefore, more than evident that Pakistan needs large multi-purposed dams to sustain and improve irrigated agriculture of Pakistan.

Jennie said...

:-) Haven't stopped in awhile, wanted to say hi.

Dams are tricky tricky business, even with populations who understand the pro's and con's. :-P

My experience as a civilian in a country that has built lots of big damns is this:

1) Dams can help control flooding. But, that flooding is often the main source of fertility for downriver agriculture. Nature had a rhythm, flooding those valleys every year, depositing silt and nutrients. Take away that flooding and now those farmers have to buy nutrients from elsewhere. (that gets really expensive really fast)

2) Dams seem to favor those upstream. If there's a drought and water needs to be conserved, engineers often lessen the amount being release downstream so that the agriculture/economic interests upstream can keep on with business as usual. This puts humans in direct competition with downstream ecosystems that need the fresh water, and also pits upstream residents against downstream residents.
If the opposite happens and there's too much water, the engineers will release excess to "remove strain from the dam" and that excess could be just as great or even worse than the seasonal flooding the area used to receive. And again pits those upstream against those downstream. (Upstream people want more water released because they are getting flooded, while downstream people say no more water, we're already flooded.) The engineers will always side with those upstream, because the dam is worth so much $$$ and must be preserved, even at the expense of those downstream.

3)Historically speaking, those people's who have been "relocated" and "fairly compensated" to make room for dams fall quickly into poverty and rarely feel as if they were fairly compensated. There are some really sad stories coming out of India about the big dams installed there. Poor peoples in my own country report the same after dams are built here.

I think many smaller dams is a potentially better way to do this. Spread around the electricity and the water and the ownership. Too many though and you do still run up against the problem of allowing enough to continue downstream to keep coastal areas healthy.

Keep up the discussion, I hope you find a solution that works for your country. It's always good to learn from the mistakes of those who have done this before.

Hamid said...

peace be upon you.

nice discussions.

Vinod Vyas said...


Your effort to highlight different issues of your country is appreciable.Almost every aspect ranging from politics,sport and religion is covered by you.

I find it surprising that there is no post or article regarding Iran-Pakistan Gas pipeline.That agreement was inked in March this year.

Everyone is aware of the fact that it was originally Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project.
India opted out due to various reason.

In my view Pakistan has signed a economic suicide pact with Iran.Reasons for this statement are as follow

1)Iran and other Gulf producers have long linked the price of gas to that of oil. This was acceptable for decades when oil prices, and hence linked gas prices, were subdued. But oil shot up from $14/barrel in 1995 to a peak of $150/barrel in 2008, and it is still around $75/barrel today.Iran and Pakistan have agreed on a gas price linked to 80% of the Brent crude oil price. This would have been fair in 1995 but not any longer as oil is up from $14/barrel to $75/barrel.

2)In the 1990s gas price was $2.05/mmbtu .Pipeline will be completed by 2015 and the effective gas price would be $20/mmbtu{assuming that Oil price would be $150/barrel).In other words if oil costs $100/barrel, the linked gas price will translate into an electricity price of around Rs 7.50/ unit and if Oil costs $150/barrel,the corresponding cost would be 11/- per unit.

3)Pakistan has signed treaty for 40 years.Producing power at that cost is not wise.

What we assume is that Pakistan was compelled to join this treaty due to power crisis,need to show solidarity with Islamic neighbours or may be there was some underhand exchanges.

Your Views Please

ReeBz said...

Jennie thanks alot for visiting my blog after a long time once again :)

Vinod- I'm not witty enough to reply you.Let the author of this post come and reply you.

Patience will be appreciated.

P.S: sorry for delay actuaally my windows became faulty and i got my pc reparied today!

floydian said...

Vinod Vyas
You have raised a very interesting question regarding Pakistan - Iran "Peace Pipe Line Project". The time and space won't allow me to present all my views here. But definitely i'll cover this issue soon on my blog in a full length article. Btw I certainly agree with some of your points regarding price mechanism. The dream of regional prosperity can gain a new boost once this energy pipeline projects materialize. However, it is really disappointing to see the Indian government backing out from this mutually beneficial energy project due to American pressure.

saood said...

i have been in the favor of making the dam as early as possible.
i shall be very thankful to government if it make the dam as early as possible

Post a Comment

You may disagree with the author's point of view.However,avoid attacking the author & offensive comments.Please keep in mind, comments with links will not be entertained!