LAHORE: The Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry have welcomed the Lahore High Court’s decision on the Kalabagh Dam and termed it inevitable because of an acute shortage of energy, fast-depleting irrigation water resources and frequent occurrence of floods in the Indus basin.
The LCCI President Farooq Iftikhar, Senior Vice President Irfan Iqbal Sheikh and Vice President Mian Abuzar Shad in their joints statement said that the LHC verdict had given a new lease of life to people suffering for multiple reasons including the non-availability of electricity.
They said that the Federal Government should implement the LHC verdict to save arable lands from turning barren and useless. Only because of the government’s silence over the Kalabagh dam, the country is suffering annually a loss of Rs 132 billion annually. This amount could be saved by initiating the construction of Kalabagh Dam.
They said that there was no threat to Nowshehra city as it is 150 feet above the water level. They said that it was very unfortunate that the decisionmakers in this country lose nothing rather they continue to enjoy all the perks under the sky, even if they make a wrong decision, it is the masses who suffer. The same is happening today, there is no electricity, but the politicians and top bureaucrats all are getting it free of cost.
The office bearers said that the Kalabagh Dam was not only beneficial to Punjab alone but it would be more helpful in erasing poverty from Khyber Pakhtunkhawa as it would irrigate 800,000 acres of cultivable land that is located 100-150 feet above the Indus river level in the province. They said this land could only be brought under cultivation if the river level is raised and that would only be possible if the Kalabagh Dam is built. They said that the other alternative is to pump the water that is very costly.
They said that creditable studies have indicated that pumping water for potential cultivable land would cost farmers Rs 5,000 per acre per year while canal water after construction of Kalabagh Dam would cost only Rs 400 per acre per year. They said that a further delay in gathering a consensus from all stakeholders on the construction of the unduly politicized Kalabagh Dam would cost this country and its coming generations very dearly. They said that all the stakeholders should show greater maturity on the issue of Kalabagh dam.
It is high time that all baseless reservations be brushed aside to save the country from that era of darkness. They added that unlike Pakistan, India is constructing dams at every possible site. It has left us decades behind and the future does not promise any good thing either. 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 in the sea because the country does not have a big water reservoir to store it. More importantly, as a result of the melting of glaciers due to global warming, a sword of Damocles remains hanging over our heads in the shape of floods. An opinion that gained widespread support across the country was that the losses of the 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.
They said that another significant aspect connected with the construction of Kalabagh Dam was the surety of sufficient amounts of electricity at comparatively much cheaper price. The country’s dependence on power generated through thermal sources was costing it way too much, causing it to face insurmountable challenges to remain competitive both in the national and international markets. Another significant aspect connected with the construction of the Kalabagh Dam was the surety of sufficient amounts of greener and cheaper electricity.
Electricity generation through thermal sources is estimated to cost almost Rs.16 per unit whereas the same can be produced at Rs.2.5 to Rs.3 through Hydel. They said that the present scenario leads to import of oil worth over US$ 12 billion a year which is costing us dearly while causing us to face insurmountable challenges to remain competitive both in the national and international markets.
Meanwhile, the FPCCI Regional Chairman Sheikh Abdul Waheed Sandal and Vice President Azhar Majeed Shaikh said that the Kalabagh Dam was most important for development. Kala Bagh Dam is in the interest of all provinces. Stories about its negative affects for Khyber Pakhtunkhawa and Sindh are technically wrong. However the government should create a consensus on this project of national interest.
They said that the LHC verdict was in favour of the national interest and it has historic importance. We can generate enough electricity through the Kalabagh Dam to solve the current energy crises. New reservoirs are necessary and needed to conserve water for the agricultural needs of the whole country. The dam is a viable project to stabilise the economy, but unfortunately dirty politics is affecting this golden project badly.