Avoiding water scarcity, Kalabagh must: Wapda

ISLAMABAD: Chairman, Water & Power Development Authority (WAPDA) has told the Parliament that construction of Kalabagh Dam was ‘critical’ due to severe water scarcity in the country.
According to reports, WAPDA Chairman (retd. Lt. General) Muzamil Hussain informed Senate Forum for Policy Research that the dam’s capacity would be 6.1 million acre feet of water and it will generate 3,600 MW electricity.
Former Senator Mohammad Anwar Bhinder, forum’s member, said in response: ‘Punjab is willing to make necessary sacrifices for Kalabagh Dam. Seeing Kalabagh Dam as anti-Pakistan is incorrect. It will benefit the whole country, he said, referring to long running political disputes over its construction.
However, Awami National Party leader Afrasiab Khattak said no further discussion on the project should take place because it was rejected by three provinces. Every WAPDA Chairman had spoken about the dam. It is regrettable that such discussions were still taking place.
Retired Lt Gen Hussain, WAPDA Chairman, said the country could face a water crisis, if Diamer, Bhasha and Mohmand dams were not built at the earliest. Pakistan was among water stressed countries, he said. He regretted absence of a comprehensive policy on water resources and its use.
About 70% of country’s water was received from melting glaciers and 25pc from rain, he said. Most of the floodwater made its way to sea every year because of shortage of reservoirs, he said. Currently, water could be stored for only 30 days in three big water reservoirs — Tarbela, Mangla and Chashma.
He said underground water level in Balochistan had drastically dropped, but about 72,000 acres in the province would be irrigated after completion of Kacchi Canal project.
Former Senate Chairman Nayyer Bokhari, presiding the meeting, underscored water issues’ importance and stressed the need for a concrete policy to cope with future challenges.
He said there was no national water policy. Public awareness about related issues was needed. Bokhari said Senate Chairman would be requested to discuss the matter in the House. He also underlined urgent need for building water reservoirs in national interest. It is need of the hour to activate provincial governments about water storage and conservation.
Bokhari said a forum meeting will be held to discuss solid waste management issues. Tons of solid waste is produced in big cities, he added.

Other members suggested improving canal rehabilitation system. It was decided that a briefing would be sought from Council of Water Research in the forum’s next meeting.
The meeting was attended by Senators Mohsin Leghari, Dr. Jehanzeb Jamaldini and former senators Wasim Sajjad, Javed Jabbar and Rukhsana Zuberi.