FAISALABAD: Faisalabad’s business community has welcomed Lahore High Court’s judgment directing the government to start construction of the proposed Kalabagh Dam.
The dam will be built on river Indus and have a generation capacity of 3,600 megawatts (MW) of electricity. The project has been highly debated, cancelled multiple times yet has been deemed a necessity since its inception.
“Kalabagh Dam’s - being a multi-purpose engineering project - construction is in the interest of the country as Pakistan continues to face water issues and the prevailing energy crisis. Therefore, after court’s judgement, any apprehensions, political or otherwise must be resolved with consensus for the earliest construction of the dam,” said president of the Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) Mian Zahid Aslam.
No mega-dams were constructed in the country beyond 1974, if bigger dams were completed on schedule, Pakistan could have avoided the crisis and expensive electricity tariffs, he said. Electricity generated from thermal costs Rs22 per unit against Rs1.18
per unit if produced from hydel, Aslam added.
“This has reduced our industrial production to 30%, foreign direct investment, competitiveness in international markets and has increased capital flight,” Aslam said.
Pakistan wastes worth Rs500 billion worth of water annually into the sea, which could be used to irrigate arable land in the country, he said. He said that due to electricity shortages, industries have shut shop and workers made redundant, therefore hampering the wheel of the economy.
Once Kalabagh Dam is completed; Pakistan will not only be able to produce cheap power but also irrigate its lands, increase agricultural production and boost exports. The benefits are endless, he said.
He asked the government to initiate construction of the project on an immediate basis and accelerate work on other hydropower projects to increase the chances of Pakistan’s economic survival.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 1st, 2012.
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