LAHORE: Advocating an early construction of Kalabagh Dam, the Lahore Chamber and Industry said that the dam is inevitable for the progress and prosperity of the country as it will produce power at an average cost of Rs. 1.5/kwh. This cheap power will annually displace costly power worth approximately Rs. 300 billion with consequential savings of costly oil imports. This saving alone would wipe out the current account deficit, boost reserves and strengthen the rupee.
The LCCI President Engineer Sohail Lashari expressed these views while addressing a Press Conference on Kalabagh Dam jointly organized by the Lahore Chamber of commerce and Industry and Sind Tas Water Council on Saturday. LCCI Vice President Kashif Anwar, Chairman STWC Muhammad Suleman Khan, Advocate Nisar Safdar from KPK, Col Abdul Razzaq Bugti, Engineer Saeed Iqbal Bhatti, Chairman Tehrik-e-Tameer Kalabagh Dam Major Siddique Rehan and Engineer Malik Muhammad Tufail also spoke on the occasion.
Engineer Sohail Lashari said that the dam will wipe out load-shedding and increase industrial output by $5-6 billion a year. Its contribution to value addition in agricultural output could go up to $10 billion a year. The dam has the potential to wipe out poverty as the project will benefit every province.
Engineer Sohail Lashari said that there was no threat to Nowshera city as it is 150 feet above the water level. He said that Kalabagh Dam, was not only beneficial to Punjab alone but it would be more helpful in erasing poverty from Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtun Khawa. The dam would irrigate 800,000 acres of land that is located 100-150 feet above the Indus river level in the province. He said this land could only be brought under cultivation if the river level is raised that is only possible if Kalabagh Dam is built. He said the other alternative is to pump the water which is very costly. He said that creditable studies have indicated that pumping water for potential cultivable land would cost farmers Rs 5000 per acre per year while canal water after construction of Kalabagh Dam would cost only Rs400 per acre per year.
He said the Kalabagh Dam issue has been so much politicized that a consensus would not be possible therefore the civil society would have to play its role for early construction of Kalabagh Dam 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 that era of darkness. He said that unlike Pakistan, India is constructing dams at every possible site. It has left us decades behind and coming time does not promise any good thing either.
He said that everyone knows that the existing dams are constantly silting up leaving ever decreasing capacity to store water. The construction of Kalabagh dam along with other new dams is desperately needed to store adequate water. According to a conservative estimate about 30 million acre feet of water is being wasted into the sea because the country has no big water reservoirs to store it.
More importantly, as a result of melting of glaciers due to global warming, a sword of Damocles remains hanging over our heads in the shape of floods. An opinion gained widespread support across the country that the losses of recent floods in Pakistan which are estimated to be more than 45 billion dollars could have been reduced if big dams and water reservoirs were in place.
He said that another significant aspect connected with the construction of Kalabagh Dam is the surety of sufficient amount of electricity at very cheap price of Re one per unit. The country’s dependence on power generated through thermal sources is costing us way too much causing to face insurmountable challenges to remain competitive both in national and international markets.
He said that the present scenario leads to import oil worth over US$ 12 billion a year which is costing us dearly while causing to face insurmountable challenges to remain competitive both in national and international markets.
The LCCI Vice President Kashif Anwar said that the controversies about Kalabagh dam are hitting the entire country and adding to masses sufferings therefore a campaign should be launched to ensure its early construction.
On the occasion, Col Abdul Razzaq Bugti presented Sindhi Topi and Ajrak to the LCCI President Engineer Sohail Lashari.