Lahore: Pakistan is facing “do or die” like situation as far as water and power shortage is concerned therefore a new strategy to exploit hydel resources in shortest possible time is a must. Though end of load shedding for the industrial sectors for a few days was a good omen but energy demand would be increased in near future.
While talking to a group of leading businessmen here at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry, the LCCI President Ijaz A. Mumtaz said that Pakistan is one of those countries where water scarcity is intensifying with every passing day.
He lamented that annually 35 million acre feet water is being wasted to the sea despite the fact that this water could be used for irrigation and generation of cheap hydel power.
The LCCI president said that keeping in view the ongoing scenario, the large dams are necessary, not only for storage of surface water, which is major component for agriculture, but also for generation of hydroelectricity, which is the cheapest and cleanest form of energy.
Ijaz A. Mumtaz said that Kalabagh Dam with a storage capacity of 7.9 Million acre feet, would produce 3600 megawatt of electricity. He said that the annual energy to be generated at Kalabagh would be equivalent to 20 million barrels of oil.
He said that Kalabagh have direct flood control benefits the downstream inhabitants like Sindh would benefit from built-in flood controls, since floods play havoc, as has been witnessed in the recent past.
He said that policy makers are talking about Basha Dam but a feasibility report for Basha has pointed out high cost of construction which is estimated $12.6 billion due to seclusion of site.
Besides the long distances present infrastructure would not support the movement of heavy machinery, raw material and power stations. Establishment of power station and transmission lines would also make an extra addition to the cost of Bhasha dam. Furthermore, he said, according to a report, we have to rebuild about 140 kms of Karakorum Highway which would be merged. Definitely $ 5 to 6 billion would be required for this purpose. While Kalabagh Dam could be constructed within $ 10 billion and it will bring all its cost back within five years.
Ijaz A. Mumtaz said that Kalabagh dam is the most suitable project the national economy as it would not only produce cheap and sufficient electricity but would also avert the human tragedies like Tharparkar. He said that Kalabagh dam is a must to control the poverty & hunger and those who were opposing the KBD were enemies of this country as they were playing with the country‘s future.
He said that Kalabagh Dam was not only beneficial to Punjab alone but it would be more helpful in erasing poverty from Khyber Pakhtun Khawa as would irrigate 800000 acres of cultivable land that is located 100-150 feet above the Indus river level in the province. This land could only be brought under cultivation if the river level is raised that is only possible if Kalabagh Dam is built.
The LCCI President suggested that government should constitute a team of experts belonging to public and private sectors to convince all the provinces. He said that the experts had already proved that there is no threat to Nowshehra city as it is 150 feet above the water level.
Ijaz A. Mumtaz said that Kalabagh Dam issue has been so much politicized that a consensus would not be possible. He urged the civil society to play a crucial role in creating a larger consensus as new large water reservoirs would benefit every Pakistani.
He said that all the stakeholders should show some greater maturity on the issue of Kalabagh. It is the high time that all undue stands should be brushed aside to save the country from the era of darkness.