Indefensible approach

A defeatist approach is an indefensible approach, particularly in the face of resistance to a project that is intended to help solve serious problems whose impact is being felt across the entire spectrum of social, economic and political life in the country. Any further delay in the construction of Kalabagh Dam would prolong the suffering of the people for want of electricity and water, and cause an incalculable damage to our industry, commerce, agriculture, education, health and, in fact, every aspect of modern existence. The Prime Minister’s remark that Kalabagh is a “dead issue” does not behove the chief executive of a country where loadshedding has become an inescapable routine and water scarcity perpetually haunts all and sundry. If agriculture, the base of Pakistan’s economy, remains starved of one of its basic ingredients – water – while a huge quantity (over six million acre feet) is allowed to flow down to the sea, no government, conscious of the welfare of the people, could turn a blind eye to this unfortunate reality. The tiller of the soil not only gets inadequate supplies from the canal, but also finds his tubewells not operating due to loadshedding. The twin menaces of water and power shortage have become a bane for everyone in the land – from the housewife, the businessman, the student, the sick patient, the farmer, and so on.

Unless the government adopts a firm stand and makes serious efforts to convince the dissenting provinces of the benefits of Kalabagh Dam, they would continue to labour under the misconception that, if constructed, it could do them harm rather than good. Kalabagh, as has been repeatedly stated, is a natural site for a reservoir of water, with the result that the cost of building the dam would be minimal; the storage would be 6.1 million acre feet; it would initially generate around 3,000MW of power and with the installation of more turbines even higher; and better still, unlike other dams in the world, its life is virtually endless, as the water flowing into it would be silt-free. No doubt, Bhasha Dam is also important, but a good deal of feasibility and other work are yet to be done; on the other hand, construction on Kalabagh could start at a moment’s notice – Nation