ISLAMABAD: The Punjab Forum, emboldened by the refusal of international donors to finance Diamer-Bhasha Dam, has asked the government to think seriously about construction of another big dam called Kalabagh.
“We have already lost over $36 billion due to delay in construction of Kalabagh Dam. The government must now consider construction of the dam since both the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and World Bank have no objection to funding the project,” said Baig Raj, President of the Punjab Forum in a statement issued here on Friday.
However, the ADB had gone back on its commitment to fund Diamer-Bhasha Dam while the World Bank had already refused to provide money, he said.
A four-year delay in funding added $500 million per year to the $12 billion project and deprived the country of $8 billion in annual benefits at the rate of $2 billion per year, said Raj.
The construction of Kalabagh Dam has been a longstanding dispute among provinces, which forced the government to abandon the project.
“Opposition to Kalabagh is not based on technical grounds, rather it is a political issue being raised to destabilise the country,” Raj said.
Expressing sorrow over loss of life and property in current floods in Nowshera, he stressed that the only way to save the city in future was construction of Kalabagh Dam. He held the Awami National Party (ANP) responsible for the losses as it was one of the biggest opponents of the dam.
Raj was of the view that Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh would not turn dry after the dam was constructed, rather these provinces would become barren in absence of this mega project.
“Bhasha Dam will not help irrigate agriculture land as no canal can be made in the hilly terrain while Kalabagh will irrigate seven million acres of land and produce 3,800 megawatts of electricity,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 25th, 2012.
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