The Kalabagh Dam is a proposed hydroelectric dam project on the Indus River in the Punjab district of Mianwali. Tarbela Dam is 251.1 kilometers away from the Kalabagh dam project site. The catchment area of the River Indus at the Kalabagh dam site is 286, 194 square kilometers. The average annual flow of the Indus River at the Kalabagh dam site is 138.69 MAF.
Geographical background of Karabagh dam
Kalabagh is a small town and union council in the Mianwali district of Pakistan’s province Punjab, part of the Isakhel tehsil. It is situated on the Indus River’s western bank. The Kalabagh region is well-known for the proposed controversial hydroelectric dam project. It is also known for its red salt range hills and the scenic view of the Indus River flowing through the mountains. When Nawab Malik Surkhuroo khan arrived, it was a city settled by its Nawabs.
Historically, it was an Awan stronghold in the district. During the British colonial period, Nawab Malik Atta Muhammad Khan was proclaimed “Khan Bahadur.” Malik Amir Muhammad Khan, the son of Malik Atta Muhammad Khan, later became the governor of Pakistan. The majority of Kalabagh residents are Bangi Khel Khattak, Niazi, or Awan.
The Kalabagh dam project was planned in 1984 to accelerate the country’s economic growth in order to support Pakistan’s rapidly growing population and raise their living standards. It is necessary to realize the full hydropower and agricultural potential of available water resources, as well as manage and regulate the Indus River flood peaks in the region. And the Kalabagh dam project is an excellent way to achieve all of these objectives.
Kalabagh dam is 259 ft high and 10,991 ft long and catchment area of 110,500 sq mi. It is planned for a maximum capacity of 3600 MW of electricity and a water storage capacity of up to 3 years. Kalabagh dam would provide 6.5 million acre-feet of water to cultivate 7 million acres of barren land with 3600 megawatts of electricity to power the economy. Kalabagh dam would also help to eradicate poverty in KPK province by irrigating 800,000 acres of cultivable land that is located 100–150 feet above the level of river Indus.
The Kalabagh Dam has caused controversy and opposition.
The Awami National Party (ANP), the Jamiat ulma e Islam Fazal ur Reham group (JUIF), and Sindh all opposed the Kalabagh dam project. According to the KPK statement on the Kalabagh dam, the project will flood Nowshehra. Swabi, Mardan, and Pabbi will be flooded, and people in KPK will be displaced. And the Sindh province’s statement on the Kalabagh Dam is that it will convert Sindh into desert land due to a lack of water, particularly removing the city of Badin from the Sindh map due to droughts. The intrusion of salt from the sea will also have an impact on the land of lower Sindh.
The Truth About the Kalabagh Dam
Swabi, Mardan, and Pabbi are flooded as KPK claims Nowshehra. This claim is false because computer simulations show that the floods in Nowshehra have nothing to do with the construction of the Kalabagh dam. Because the lowest point in Nowshehra is 935 feet above sea level. While the reservoir at Kalabagh Dam is designed to be kept at 915 feet. Which is lower than the highest point on Nowshehra’s lowest ground. As a result of the Kalabagh dam, there is no risk of flooding.
And the lowest elevations in Mardan are 970 feet, Swabi 1000 feet, and Pabbi 960 feet. Which is higher than the reservoir at Kalabagh Dam, which is only 915 feet. The maximum level of the Kalabagh dam would be maintained for only 3-4 weeks during the months of September and October. Following that, it would fall as water is released for “Rabi” crop cultivation and power generation. By early June, it would have dropped to the dead storage level of 825 feet. As a result, Kalabagh poses no threat to KPK.
Sindh’s reservation on Kalabagh is due to sea intrusion in the Indus delta, according to statistics released recently by Sindh’s Irrigation and Power Departments on the effects of sea intrusion in the Indus delta. According to the report, nearly a quarter million people have been displaced, resulting in financial losses of more than Rs. 100 billion. A tidal infraction has inundated over 486,000 hectares, accounting for 33% of the land in Thatta and Badin. Many more losses, such as losses in fish production, crops, land, agriculture, and forestry, are listed in the IUCN report, and this is the primary reason that Sindh will not allow any additional dams in the upstream region.
Pakistan is drying and the Conclusion
Every project has advantages and disadvantages, but they can be resolved through dialogue and debate. Kalabagh dam is required now and in the future because nearby dams such as Tarbela and Mangla have reached the end of their useful life and are no longer capable of storing water or generating electricity. And Kalabagh dam can store more water and generate more electricity than Tarbela and Mangla dams combined. And the country’s increasing drought and flood destruction ratio highlights the importance of not only the Kalabagh dam but also the construction of additional dams. Pakistan currently stores only 10% of its available water source, with the remaining 90% being wasted in the sea with no treatment or use.
As a result, there is an urgent need to construct more dams to store water for agricultural and power generation purposes. Furthermore, we should avoid any controversies or propaganda against such projects. As India invests billions of dollars in propaganda against such development projects in Pakistan, some political parties and stakeholders are also supporting these deceptive controversies and propaganda that are completely contrary to Pakistan’s economic and developmental growth and prosperity.
According to the most recent research reports, Pakistan will face water scarcity by 2025. In Pakistan, people will face severe droughts as water scarcity worsens. Dams are thus our ultimate need for water storage and power generation, and thus for Pakistan’s growth, stability, and survival.