Lahore: The Punjab Forum on Monday asked to abandon plans to revive Tarbela dam spending billions of dollars and focus on construction of Kalabagh dam (KBD) which will cost less and last longer than any other dam in the country.
An independent Chinese consultant hired by the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) to conduct a feasibility study for desilting the Tarbela reservoir has given opinion that desilting is not an economically or technically viable option.
His report clearly states that such a move can damage the country’s largest power house and reservoir, said Baig Raj, President Punjab Forum.
In a statement issued here today, he said that Tarbela which was completed in 1978 has already lost 30 per cent capacity to 6.6 million acre feet to silting over the years.
The report says that instead of undertaking such a massive exercise it would be more economical to build a new dam of the same size and capacity which has left government with little options to delay construction of KBD, one of the most viable projects in Pakistan, he added.
Baig Raj said that Tarbela dam has an estimated lifespan of 50 years; it would complete its designed life by 2029 while KBD has a life of 450 years.
Pakistan’s per capita water availability had already gone below 975 cubic metres per person from 5100 cubic meters in 1960 which is a great threat to industry, agriculture and masses which not only required urgent steps but it should act as a wakeup call for politicians opposing KBD.
Mr. Raj furthered that according to 1960 treaty Pakistan was to build a dam of the size of Tarbela at least every decade but governments failed to make a single dam despite resources which indicate lack of interest in securing country’s future.
Dams are built the world over to overcome water shortages and not to create them. The Mangla Dam brought green revolution, the Tarbela Dam increased water supply to the canal network by 25 per cent while Sindh got an additional seven million acre feet of water.
According to the findings of provincial Irrigation department, Sindh stands to get 2.2 million acre feet from Kalabagh, he said.
The President of Punjab Forum said that KBD is neither a technical nor a political issue, rather it is a humanitarian matter related to national survival which is being delayed by some politicians and so called experts to damage the federation on the directions of enemies of Pakistan.