Having remained in the cold storage for so many years, Kalabagh Dam is once again in the limelight. It has become crystal clear to all and sundry that the construction of this mega project is inevitable not only for the progress and prosperity but also for the future water requirements of Pakistan. AS this project has always met severe criticism, no government could initiate its construction although all the feasible reports and surveys okayed this project. The present government, with its vow to construct Kalabagh and Bhasha dams at all costs, has seemingly opened a new Pandora’s box. Let us wait and see which way the wind blows.
The proposed site for Kalabagh Dam is 15 miles above Kalabagh city on the Indus river, with the reservoir in the NWFP and the dam in punjab. It would be 11,000 feet long and 060 feet above river bed. Its storage capacity would be 6.1 million acre feet. The total land consumed would be 35000 acres; Punjab sharing 27500 and NWFP 7500 acres respectively.
The need for mega dams like Kalabagh and Bhasha has increased all the more as per future water requirements of Pakistan. First, out of the 140 MAF water flowing annually in the river Indus, only 107 MAF is consumed for irrigation while the rest (33 MAF) goes to drain. By harnessing this water, we can not only generate abundant electricity but also meet out water demands during dry season. Second, the present reservoirs like Terbela, Mangla and war sake are constantly losing their capacity, strength and age due to desalting and unusual wear and tear. Hence, we need now mega dams. Third, the small dams are cost-effective, short-lived and flood-prone while mega dams like Kalabagh are low cost-effective, long lasting and flood proof.
Pakistan urgently needs to increase water supply in order to meet fast-growing food, fibred and energy requirements. There fore, the immediate construction of Kalabagh Dam is inevitable. Otherwise, the country will be terribly short of water, power and grain. Let us construct Kalabagh Dam with consensus in the best interest of the country and nation. We should be ready to face minor losses for big gains.