Divisive project: ‘Kalabagh dam need-of-the-hour’
MULTAN: The Multan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) on Wednesday called on the government to declare a state of water emergency nationwide.
MCCI president Farid Mughees Sheikh said the country would have to grapple with an acute water crisis in a decade if steps were not taken to increase storage capacity. Sheikh said the Indus River System Authority (IRSA) had been constantly warning the government regarding water scarcity. He said all Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) funds should be exclusively devoted to increasing freshwater storage capacity.
The MCCI president said the nation had to quickly build mega and small dams to avert the impending water crisis. He said paucity of water had been damaging both, the agriculture and manufacturing sector. “We cannot afford to lose more time. The government should strive for the early construction of the Kalabagh dam. It is the sole way of overcoming water problems and the energy shortfall,” Sheikh said. He said agriculture was the backbone of the nation’s economy. A sector that, Sheikh said, was dependent on the availability of adequate water resources.
Sheikh said the Kalabagh dam was the most apt development project for the national economy. He said its construction would guarantee the provision of affordable power and also put an end to the havoc wreaked by floods. The MCCI president said the Kalabagh dam also needed to be constructed if the nation wanted to escape from the clutches of poverty.
He said that those against the project were gambling with the nation’s future. Sheikh said it was unfortunate that the nation had remained bereft of a water policy over the last 16 years. The MCCI president said the IRSA had called on the government to immediately start building dams to avoid annual losses to the tune of billions of rupees.
Sheikh said the wastage of one million acres feet (MAF) of water had caused an estimated loss of Rs60 billion. He said this was so as 36 MAF of water had flowed into the sea last season. Out of this, the MCCI president said, 8.6 MAF were required to flow through Kotri Barrage for environmental reasons. Sheikh said this meant that over 27 MAF of water had been wasted over just one season. This, he said, was equal to the storage capacity of three big dams.
The MCCI president said the IRSA had asked the government to take decisive measures on building new dams. He said the authority had written to the government seeking the diversion of all development funds to building more dams on an emergency footing. Sheikh said the government had paid no heed to the IRSA’s entreaties.
He said the government should swiftly move to construct the Kalabagh and Basha dams. Sheikh said the Munda dam should also be constructed to secure citizens’ lives and properties in Nowshera.