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Kalabagh Dam Reconstructed – Rectification of a Wide of the Mark Version Prof. A.M.H.Kango1 Engr SM Zakeyra Kazmi has given a very appetizing statement on Kalabagh Dam (KBD), but I am afraid that his version of inevitability of the dam is devoid of the pinch of salt which might be added by the salt range to the turn the whole Punjab and the lower riparians into salt lakes. I think the idea of this kind of salt transportation is highly laudable and hence the dam must be brought into action to damn the fertile plains of the Punjab. `The vested interest (mafia) in Sindh and NWFP have been trying to kill a project which was the part of implementation of master plan of water resources conservation policy of the country for century ending year 1999, which was a must for the better tomorrow of Pakistan’ only for the good of the country. The critics of this mega project should know that it was conceived, engineering carried out by the Pakistan People’s Party’s government of its founding father late Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) who was the leading engineer of his times, but could not take off because of the another not so important mega project of equal importance in communication sector — Indus Super Highway (ISH) on the right bank of Indus, had left the drawing board and was under execution in the field. Had ISH project not been shelved by late President Ziaul Haq, (may Allah the Almighty be pleased with him for that action too) today part of Pakistan West of Indus would have got incremental economic development and country would have been by now another South Korea, Malaysia (as Asian tigers with borrowed skin). After counting merits of both the mega projects of ISH and KBD abandoned after the fall of late ZAB government, the author blames international loan giving agencies and aid from the western countries particularly from the US (a must for easy going Pakistanis) were not forthcoming for ISH, for the untenable objection of US that "it was a defence oriented project" (as US wants to keep Pakistan defenceless). In their view, in case of war with our eastern neighbours, whereas National Highway (East of Indus) was within the range of Indian guns, the proposed ISH was not. However, Bhutto was able to persuade Shah Faisal to finance it. Thus ISH took off in the field, departmentally by Indus Super Highway Board, by using heavy highway construction equipment and machineries donated by Japan for the project. KBD, then, as mentioned above, was in the last stage of final design. The former got shelved after the change of regime but for unsustainable objection by the US, the later continued to progress in the design office, its feasibility and complete engineering was finished by 1988, but could not start, for the-then government of Pakistan got involved in Afghanistan’s affairs at the behest of the US against Soviet Union (with the blessings of US). In view of the fact, that its feasibility was approved by the government of ZAB (a ceremonial selection like Junejo and Jamali) and detailed engineering design was completed by 1988 (Engr SM Zakeyra Kazmi’s firm at cost almost equal to that of the dam and without consideration of the implications of the location), but the execution of the work in the field could not take off because of objections raised very strongly in Sindh by the nationalists and People’s Party (a blessing in disguise for the Punjab). Obviously, this was due to the fact, that both the opposition in Sindh and Frontier were antagonist with the military regime of General Ziaul Haq (but the Punjab was all for him). 1 The author provided leadership to On Farm Water Management (OFWM) without which all dams are of no avail to agricultural development. Engr. Zakeyra deliberates on the objections and cries of the nationalists group and People’s Party in Sindh. They opposed the project of great national importance and are still opposing on two counts: a) The Punjab will benefit extraordinarily by this storage (a totally off beam indictment. Sindh stands for betterment of whole Pakistan but not at the cost of the poverty stricken backward areas) and the flow down stream KBD will be reduced, which would adversely effect lower riparian i.e. Sindh (and lower Punjab where riverian areas would be affected and the maliciously advocated tube wells will need perpetual investment in addition to that of KBD) b) There will be no flow down-stream of Kotri Barrage to take care of the natural growth of vegetation and habitat; because of no out-fall from the river to the sea, later would encroach into the Delta and finish the natural vegetation and the habitat thereof. Talking in the layman’s language (better to avoid statistics of storage, discharges, which confuses the common man, such records are better produced in the gathering of professionals), the dams big or small are raised tanks to conserve the water during monsoon season and serve the irrigation system during the summer when there is no rainfall. Sindh falls in the arid zone contrary to Punjab, where there is sufficient rainfall in winter and other months of the year. The dam is similar to storing water in a house, where there is no 24 hours supply of water. Water is occasionally stored in the underground tank and pumped to over-head tank to give un-interrupted supply for 24 hours. Much simpler is to say for the comprehension of majority of the people in Pakistan, that they store water in fiber-glass tanks or galvanized tanks kept close to kitchen and bath rooms, which is used during non supply of pipe borne water. Indus River in Sindh flows on a ridge with high banks built on both sides. This is because the velocity of water is very low due to low gradient of the bed of river. Hence, there is a tendency of silting the bed over a period of time. To contain the flow in the desired width of the river the high banks and dikes have been built and are continuously watched by the maintenance gangs of the Irrigation Department. During monsoon, when the highest flood level is attained in the river, there is always a tendency of over topping, over-flowing both sides of the banks. This surplus water with fertile silt is deposited every year in the kutcha area on both sides of the Indus in a width of 3 to 4 miles on both sides of the river. Thus the kutcha area becomes very fertile and is the source of bumper cash crops and is sanctuary of the dacoits in Sindh. These Kutcha areas are government land, but are vigorously controlled by the local landlords (called wadera in Sindh). The poor Haris (Tiller of Soil) do not get any benefit from this flooding of kutcha areas. The vested interests of landlords (the landed mafia) would be deeply hurt by the storage dams built in the location in the upper riches, where the dams are built. All the so-called public-outrage in the rural Sindh is instigated by these vested interests referred to as landed mafia, similar to many mafias like transport, water tanker, land grabber (in cities), smugglers, commission, religion and last but not the least the drug-mafia existing and prospering at the cost of poors of the country. (A strange logic without reason does no consider the fact that the land is leased by government, dacoits if any live in jungle which if cultivated does not provide them sanctuary and the tillers of land could be made owners if Engr. Zakerya could convince the government to do so. This would be highly welcome beneficent action of Engr. Zakerya) After the completion of the dams on the proper locations of the dams (dams can be built in hilly areas and barrages in the plain) surplus water will be available as and when and where is required. (This location has to be re-examined for geological reasons so that the benefits(?) to nation and the Punjab and sufferings of affectees could be weighed to adjudge the need of a dam at Kalabagh) Apparently, today Indus itself has become a controlled water-way due to construction of barrages in the Punjab and Sindh. It serves just like a canal, where the water flows through it, when the gates of the barrages are opened to allow the outflow of required quantity of water (leaving the riverian areas un-inundated). The fear of Sindh is untenable in view of the fact, that IRSA headquarter is shifted to Islamabad and all the four provinces are represented on it by its highly qualified and experienced irrigation engineers. As per the statue of the IRSA it will always be headed by another(!) highly qualified irrigation engineer from Sindh (as an axe man). Thus, out of five members including its Chairman, Sindh will be having two members on the IRSA board. Further 23 telemeter stations have been established on controlling points of barrages and head-works, to measure the quantum of water being shared by each province. On this count, the fear of irregularity in sharing the water as per agreed accord is for misleading the innocent people of Sindh. (This appeasement is very lucrative but unfortunately the decisions of IRSA or the government are beyond their authority to be implement to the letter. There are monkeys who judge between alley cats and destroy the cake instead of eating it) As regards the down-stream flow below the Kotri barrage, that too is fixed by IRSA. This negates the fear of the sea encroaching Indus delta (and exposes the fact that there is no flow on the ground). Coming to the fear of political opposition parties, especially ANP about the submerging of Nowshera in the NWFP, because of the artificial lake created by the proposed dam. Before going to the impact of the artificial lake in the upper riches of river Kabul, it is worth mentioning that we have observed the even now submergence-flooding of part of Nowshera close to the bank of river Kabul. Even without the dam, the government is a well advised to shift those areas of the township to the high lands available near and around Nowshera. The story of complete submergence of Nowshera is very interesting. In field survey, the permanent station for bench-mark is selected on which the higher floods level plus three metres is permanently marked. During the survey for the dam, such marks were printed on permanent basis on some permanent buildings and structures. The mediamen at that time inadvertently, took the marking on the buildings as the highest flood level (HFL) itself, which wrongly gave the impression to the general public, that whole of Nowshera would be submerged in the lake, which is not the case. The HFL was to be 3 metres below the marks shown on the buildings. This disinformation from the media was inadvertently taken as correct by the ANP and that is how they started opposing the construction of the proposed dam. (It is not the question of averages. An engineer must consider the maximum limit. If water reaches the mark, who will evacuate the people and compensate for the loss.) The dictum is "water sustains life (every where)". It is the responsibility of the government of the time to conserve as much water as possible since about 30 percent of Pakistan lie in arid zone (annual rainfall ten inches), 50 percent in semi-arid (rainfall between ten to thirty inches), 20 percent high land areas (normal rainfall ranging between 30 to 60 inches). It is not the story of many yester-years, rather it is a fact of last four years that Pakistan faced extreme drought conditions. This year with Allah’s (SWT) mercy we had better rainfall, which flooded most of Sindh and caused immense loss of lives and properties. (This has no relevance to KBD. Even if it was in situ, it could not have caused reverse flow in the reservoir) We wish we had the Kalabagh Dam before the last monsoon, which would have stored water sufficient to take care of at least three drought years. It was a surprise to the nation why the landed mafia kept silent during the downpour, which flooded lower part of Sindh in July, caused losses of lives and properties. Was not this caused by bringing politics in KBD construction, which should have been there for the last ten years and would have saved miseries of the people. Being knowledgeable in water resources development and a former Parliamentarian, I would appeal to all brothers and sisters, be they from Sindh, Punjab, Balochistan or Frontier that please search your hearts impartially: Is Pakistan not one country like one body of human being? If some organ of the body is weak with some ailment, the whole body becomes sick? Therefore, it is beyond my comprehension, that Punjab would be happy to snatch Sindh’s share of water and make it barren and a desert. In the end I would appeal to President General Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Jamali to start with the Dam immediately and name it as ‘Fatima Jinnah Dam’. Finish the engineering design of Bhasha and Skardu dams in the next three years. We have already lost the benefits of Kalabagh dam for the last ten years and have enormously suffered by floods in Sindh and Balochistan. God forbid recurrence of similar disaster in coming years, if its construction was started as planned, the country would have benefited tremendously since last ten years. Our GDP and GNP should have received great boost. The nation would be surprised to know that Mangla, Tarbela (the biggest earthen dam in the world) were conceived, designed and built during the military regime (for which engineers are highly thankful for creating employments for them. Unfortunately the sword of water distribution of water in the hands of monkey is dangerous for the nation. Over irrigation has resulted in water logging and salinity. A mega project of parallel salt river is under construction.) Unfortunately the political governments failed to comprehend the necessity, strategy and methodology to conserve water resources of the country. The writer is former Member of National Assembly (1988-90), former Chairman, Pakistan Engineering Council and Chartered President, Pakistan Chamber of Engineers but appears to be short of memory when Zia said that engineers should construct PEC building themselves as they have ample sources of easy money and Musharraf has formed a lobby to convince the nation of a dam which will bring ruination to the Punjab, Sindh and NWFP inorder of this priority. Read authors article `Is Punjab its own enemy?’. Mind that Kalabagh catchment is only are above it, and, all in favour and against KBD are contesting figures of overall water availability including ground water in lower reaches.
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