The Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) on Tuesday termed Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhawa and Balochistan’s objections against the construction of the Kalabagh Dam “baseless”.
The authority told the Lahore High Court (LHC) that the reservations were based on a lack of information. Wapda said that once approved, the dam could be built in six years.
This was stated in a reply submitted by the Water and Power Development Authority in a constitutional petition, seeking directions to the government to build the Kalabagh Dam to overcome the energy crisis.
The authority stated that a 1999 survey had shown that a population of 120,320 had to be relocated of which 78,170 were in the Punjab and 42,150 in the NWFP, now Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P). Compensation was be paid to all for their properties in compliance with the Land Acquisition Act.
Provincial assemblies of Sindh, K-P and Balochistan passed unanimous resolutions against the construction of the damn in December 1988, October 1994 and June 1994 respectively.
The power development authority noted in its reply that all the objections raised had been critically examined and were found to be unsubstantiated.
The authority lamented that the federal government had not started an awareness campaign to inform the legislators about the importance of the project.
It described the project as a “gigantic multipurpose engineering project”, the complexities of which some of the legislators could not understand.
They do, however, need to be aware of its primary objectives and socio-economic significance.
Before passing the resolutions in favour of or against the dam were introduced, presentations by experts ought to have been arranged to brief the legislators about necessity of the project and its benefits to each province, stated the reply. The legislators should also be told about the economic loss and the hardships people will face as a result of food, water and electricity shortages if the dam was not built.
Addressing an objection raised by the KP government that the Peshawar valley, including Nowshera, would be flooded if the dam was constructed, the authority said that the backwater effect of the Kalabagh lake would end about 10 miles downstream of Nowshera.
A study had established that recurrence of record flood of August 1929 would not affect water level at Nowshera even after 100 years of sedimentation in reservoir. The studies have been reviewed by a Chinese expert and then by an international panel of experts. Both reviews have supported the studies’ findings, it said.
The fear that sea water intrusion in the Indus Delta would be aggravated by Kalabagh Dam is not substantiated by factual data. Studies indicate that the effect is limited to the lower parts of Delta. Sea water intrusion is unlikely to be aggravated by Kalabagh Dam.
The CJ adjourned the hearing till August 17 and asked the petitioner’s counsel to submit a rejoinder to the authority’s reply.
Advocate Syed Feroze Shah Gillani has filed the petition, saying that Kalabagh dam was essential to the country’s survival.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 8th, 2012.