Why Kalabagh Dam was Never Made? | Part 1
In Punjab, people have a strange sense of humor. You see very unique kinds of signs in the markets. During winters, I saw sign in a shop that said: Customers with cold hands should only ‘Salam’ with their mouths (no handshake!). Another very common sign in the markets is: No credit-buying (udhaar) until Kalabagh Dam is made.
What is this Kalabagh Dam issue?Kalabagh is located in the north-west end of Punjab. Where Punjab meets KPK. This area is famous across Pakistan for its Iron Ore reserves, Nawab of Kalabagh, and the dangerous bridge. It used to be a wooden bridge, but a road has been built on it and it’s not that dangerous anymore. But, Kalabagh’s most famous thing is a dam that was never made. Even though Tarbela Dam and Kalabagh Dam were scheduled to be made together but, back then, WAPDA officials and Government ministers believed that that Tarbela Dam alone is enough for next 50 years. And Kalabagh will generate even more electricity than Tarbela Dam so what’s the point of producing so much electricity?
Where would keep so much power?How right-minded they were… weren’t they?. If check out this area on Google Maps we realize that Indus has a huge amount of water here. Second thing we notice is that the mountains are naturally creating a dam. Mountains surround three sides already
Build a wall on one side, and your dam is ready. The design for this dam was complete in 1988. But, back then, our political leadership was so busy in leg-pulling each other that nobody paid attention to the country. And, with the passage of time, the very project of this dam was washed down. What happened is that KPK and Sindh provinces developed reservations against this dam. KPK’s leaders claim that if this dam is made it will drown Nowshera, a city in KPK, 200 KM away. They claim that Nowshera is only a little above the level of river water and, if the dam is made, then water in the Indus will rise and drown the city. Jamaat-e-Islami of KPK goes as far as claiming that this dam will drown Mardan, Peshawar and Swabi as well. Experts say that there’s zero chance of any city drowning because to this dam. On the other hand, Sindh province claims that if this dam is made yhe delta areas, where Indus meets Arabian Sea, Sea-waters will come up the stream and salinize the whole area. Which means, that the sweet (drinking) water of Indus keeps the sea-water pushed back. If the amount of water reduces, then the salty sea-water will rise up and leave the whole area salinize. If we look at this area on Google Maps, we realize that there aren’t any crops being produced anyway. The point of salinization shouldn’t rise because the land isn’t being used anyway. So, what’s the real problem?