Nation will not forgive those who are opposing Kalabagh Dam: Abdul Basit

LAHORE: Hunger, starvation, famine and darkness would be our fate if we don’t build dams to store water that is depleting fast. Nation will not forgive them who are opposing Kalabagh Dam for their own interests.

In a statement issued here Saturday, former Senior Vice President of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry and former Chairman of Pakistan Poultry Association Abdul Basit said that the dam is inevitable for survival of Pakistan as if the government fails to take any practical step, poverty and hunger will be the endless fate that may lead the country to irrecoverable disaster.

He said that all those who were opposing the Kalabagh Dam were enemies of this country as they were playing with the country‘s future. He said that the only because of government silence over Kalabagh dam, country is suffering a loss of Rs 132 billion annually. This amount could be saved by initiating construction of Kalabagh Dam. Abdul Basit said that there is no threat to Nowshehra city as it is 150 feet above the water level.

Abdul Basit 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 it would irrigate 800000 acres of cultivable 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 the 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 Rs 400 per acre per year.

He said that the politicians opposing the construction of the dam are in fact enemies of the people of province. He said historical data indicates that during past 75 years average 146 million acres of water is available per year in river Indus.

He said the Kalabagh Dam issue has been so much politicized that a consensus would not be possible. The political leadership, he added, is manipulating the issue for their advantage. He said civil society would have to play a crucial role in creating a larger consensus as new large water reservoirs would benefit every Pakistani.

Abdul Basit said that a further delay in gathering a consensus from all stakeholders on the construction of unduly politicized Kalabagh Dam will cost this country and its coming generations very dearly.

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 comparatively much cheaper price. 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.

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