Kalabagh Dam controversy and social media campaign

Kalabagh Dam controversy and social media campaign

Kalabagh Dam project is always been most controversial subject in the political history of the country. While a large number of people were in favor of it due to its potential benefits for Pakistan, a few people were against it due to its location and some political interests.

From last couple of weeks, a social media campaign emerged in favor of Kalabagh Dam. The objective behind this move is to highlight the issue as, the construction of the dam is most essential step for the survival of the country right now.

Although there was always need to build a dam to save the future of water in Pakistan but after the inauguration of Kishenganga Dam by India, a huge number of Pakistanis are taking part in a social media campaign to urge authorities to start construction of the Kalabagh Dam.

On the other hand, the campaign was so aggressive that it provoked the Chief Justice of Pakistan right now to make a decision on taking up the Kalabagh Dam issue upcoming two week.

In this regard, a three-judge bench, chaired by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Ijazul Ahsan took up a petition looking for directions regarding the construction of Kalabagh Dam filed by Barrister Zafarullah. The petition was two-year-old.

The applicant expressed fear during the hearing and stated that existing water reservoirs will be depleted by 2025. This is exactly what the social media campaign is highlighting.

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In addition, the bench has directed Additional Attorney General for Pakistan Waqar Rana to explain about the government’s actions within 15 days regarding the mass awareness campaign on the impact of Kalabagh dam in analysis of two Council of Common Interest (CCI) decisions.

The petition cites Indian warning to prevent all the flows from the rivers whose waters are permissible to be used by Pakistan under the treaty act. Despite the fact that India already has exclusive use of Sutlej, Beas, and Ravi, they are trying to stop the flow of water for Pakistan.

“Unfortunately Pakistan has suffered due to provincial strife and local politics and we have not built Kalabagh Dam due to this…Kalabagh Dam would be quicker to build and has already been approved by international [lenders]…Pakistan must build at least 20 dams to address water shortages for agriculture and drinking,”  petition adds.

Opinions of both parties (favor and against)

According to water experts and many Pakistanis, KBD is the most beneficial dam due to its location and prior work done on this project. On the other hand, political leadership in Sindh and Balochistan have some issues about the location of dam, they disagree on this project by saying that there are many other sites where dams can be constructed instead of causing permanent losses to the inhabitants in those provinces.

At Pakistani end, the construction of KBD has turn into a dispute between upper and lower riparian provinces. On the other hand, India is busy constructing dams.

Although, construction of dams and water storage facilities is a far-off solid step that Pakistan have to take without delay. But, it’s also one of those issues that are deeply controversial in Pakistani politics. In this issue political opposition has been so strong from certain points that each time government had to surrender it, no matter if they wanted to move ahead with it.

 Hence, navigating forward must be done carefully in light of such a politically charged environment. Moreover, it must be kept in mind that there are valid provincial concerns and objections that must be effectively addressed.

However, authorities have to realize that Pakistan’s water and energy security is at risk.

If Pakistan does not make an adequate numbers of dams and barrages to tackle the water challenges ahead, it will create lots of problems in the future. As the petition states, existing water reservoirs will be used up by 2025 and Pakistan will run out of water resulting massive crises.

In a nutshell, everybody including the opposition parties in the issue needs to support ventures like the construction of the Kalabagh Dam and other water reservoirs. Right now, the production of electricity via hydel power is the most economical and long-lasting measure on board. Hence, Kalabagh and other new dams’ constructions are “desperately needed”.

What’s you opinion about this issue? Are you in favor of Kalabagh dam? Give your opinion in comment section.

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