Pak Digest

Kalabagh Dam – An Overview of the Conflict and Recent Update

After the division of the sub-continent, Pakistan came into being in 1947. With the division of Hindu and Muslim majority, there were divisions of territory, resources, military forces, industries, and water bodies including rivers.

India was against the equal water divisions between the two states. And from here the Kalabagh Dam issue started.

East Punjab in India discontinued the water flow to West Punjab in Pakistan on April 1, 1948. After that, a huge conflict started. This was done to cause a water shortage in Pakistan so they would automatically surrender to India.

Following this water crisis between the two states the World bank intervened. Afterwards in 1960, the World Bank presented the Indus Basin Treaty to resolve the disputes.

According to this treaty, the division of rivers: Ravi, Bias, and Sutlej were given to India, while Indus, Jhelum, and, Chenab were given to Pakistan.

The world bank also recommended the construction of two dams i-e. Tarbela and Mangla dams. The world bank also provided funds for the construction of these dams.

During the forum of Save Water Save Pakistan, it was proposed that at least 5 dams would be built by 2025. These included the Kalabagh Dam to meet the rising demand and need for water.

The Conflict On Kalabhag Dam

Kalabagh is an area which is located near Mianwali and to construct a dam in this area, the geographical conditions of this area had to be considered.

The construction of the Kalabagh dam was a bit less costly as only a wall had to be constructed to make it a dam. The other three sides have been covered with mountains.

However, with time following the water crisis in Pakistan, the idea to construct the dam got changed. Later, it became a hydropower project for the production of electricity. Also, a way to overcome the water shortage in the country.

After that, the government constructed the Tarbela dam and Kalabagh Dam became the most important project in the pipeline.

However, the two provinces KPK and Sindh were not in favor of its construction due to various political reasons.

So for over three decades, plans to construct the Kalabagh Dam on the Indus River have been the source of recurring disputes.

The provinces in favor of the construction of Kalabagh Dam claim that it is a way to address water and energy demands in Pakistan. However, those who are against claim that the dam would affect downstream water access and also livelihood.

Several treaties and authorities have been in place to oversee the matter but still, the resolution to the ongoing dispute remains uncertain.

Sindh’s Perspective

Sindhi politicians are against the construction of the Kalabagh Dam. They believe that Sindh’s share of Indus water may be affected after its construction. Also, MQM’s leadership termed it as ‘Anti-Sindh PML-N and Kalabagh Dam’.

KPK’s Perspective

The politicians of KPK are against the construction of the Kalabagh Dam because they think that if the dam was constructed, the city of Nowshera would drown.

Predicted Benefits From Kalabagh Dam:

The Ministry of Water and Power claimed that Kalabhag Dam would guarantee cheap and sufficient electricity. Moreover, Kalabhag Dam can generate 3699 MW of energy. There are other benefits also related to imports. The WAPDA Chairman Muzammil Hussain has stated in the past that Kalabagh Dam is feasible.

Water Crisis in Pakistan

It is an unfortunate reality that 90 percent of the country’s water is used for agricultural purposes. Pakistan should reduce the enormous disparity between its rising population and its water needs, as well as the quantity and capacity of its water reservoirs.

Recent Updates On Kalabhag Dam:

Following recent floods in the country, the demand for Kalabhag Dam once again echoed in the Punjab Assembly in September 2022. But the issue is still unresolved. The government should take an action after discussing the matter among the provinces.

Other Proposed Dams and Hydropower Projects

Some of the other proposed dams and hydroelectric projects in Pakistan include:

  • Nai Gaaj
  • Naulung
  • Bara
  • Tank Zam
  • Diamer Basha Dam
  • Mohamand Dam
  • KurramTangi II Dam
  • Chiniot
  • Shyok
  • Dhudhnial
  • Skardu
  • Akhori
  • Rohtas

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