Historical Overview of This issue
The controversy of Kalabagh Dam (KBD) has raged between the four provinces of Pakistan since 1984 when its project report left the drawing boards of WAPDA and was circulated among the provinces. Since then much has been said and written on the subject by many knowledgeable people from different walks of life covering economic, technical and environmental aspects of the project. Politicians have also jumped into the fray using strong words for and against the dam.
When one looks at the arguments, and the people who have advanced them, it immediately becomes evident that every politician, technocrat and common man from Punjab favours the dam while almost all people from the other three provinces oppose it. It is as if the sharp line of division between the pro and anti dam lobbies has also become a fault line between Punjab on the one hand and the remaining provinces of Pakistan, on the other.
Very strong words have been used by both sides. In the not so distant past, Ghulam Mustafa Khar, the then federal minister for Water and Power had repeatedly thundered that the Kalabagh Dam would be constructed “at all costs”. He clearly meant to say that the Kalabagh Dam will be constructed whether other provinces objected (and suffered) or not. Most technocrats and formers of public opinion from Punjab also kept expressing their unqualified view that the Kalabagh dam was the “life and death of the country”.
Equally strong words have been issued by prominent people opposing the project. The NWFP leader Begum Naseem Wali Khan has gone so far as to call the Dam a “threat to the sovereignty” of the country. This, besides the fact that the provincial Assembly of NWFP has passed resolutions no less than four times against the construction of Kalabagh Dam.
Sind, which contends that there is not enough water left in River Indus to tap from, and which as lower riparian, will suffer the most from the till effects fo damming the river and from further loss of water that is proposed to be taken KBD, has also protested the most. The provincial Assembly which is the highest forum of expression of the political will of the province, has twice passed a resolution against the dam. The government of Sindh, through the experts of its Irrigation and Planning & Development departments and through D.O letters from its Chief Ministers, has also constantly, and vehemently, opposed the project due to tis detrimental effects on Sindh. The details of relevant correspondence is given elsewhere in the book.
And as far as the people’s will is concerned, one would be hard pressed to find even one person in the length and breadth of Sindh who has a kinds word for the project and is not opposed to the dam in the strongest possible sense. Political parties that are a manifestation of public opinion, have come out clearly and unequivocally against construction of kalabagh dam. Following are the names of those parties and groups that have declared their opposition and resentment against the Kalabagh project.
• Peoples Party (Passed a Resolution against KBD in the Sindh
• Sindh Democratic Party
• Sindh National Front Led by Mr. Mumtaz Bhutto
• Awami Tehrik Led by Rasool Bux Palijo
• Sindh Tarqi Pasand Party Led by Dr Qadir Magsi
• Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz Led by Mr Abdul Wahid Areesar
• Jeay Sindh Mahaz Led by Mr A.Khaliq Junejo
• Sindh Sagar Party
• Jamiat Ulmai Sindh
• Jamiat Ulmai Pakistan (Sindh Branch)
It must be understood by those who favour the dam, that the people of sindh have a very special relationship with river Indus. In Sindh river Indus is omnipresent. It has life. It loves and hates scattered across the plains of Sindh there are remains of innumerable settlements, (including no less than 19 large cities that were at one time or the other capitals of Sindh) that have turned into mounts. Much like Moen-jo-Daro, indicating at once, the benefaction and the destruction caused by the great river which first gave life to these settlements and then took it away by changing its course to either drown or parch the cities to extinction.
The overwhelming presence of the river is evident in the day to day life of sindh. One hears about “Sindhu Nadi” or “Daryah” in casual conversation, one continuously reads or hears about it in the rpose or petry of Sindhi literature, once can’t travel by rail or road much before encountering the river. Above all else so many business houses and innumerable childerren are named after the river (e.g. Indus, Sindhu, Mehran, Darya etc.) showing the extent to which the lives of Sindhi people are intertwined with the great river.
Further, it must be understood that the awe and the affections in which sindhi people hold river Indus is not due to sentimentality alone but because of the tremendous economic significance of the great river that directly or indirectly touches almost every soul on the soil of sindh.
It must be remembered that river Indus is the only source of water, either for drinking or for irrigation, available to the people of Sindh. Unlike Punjab which gets a sizeable rain in the monsoon, Sindh is a parched land getting less than an average of five inches of rain (127mm) per year. Again, unlike Punjab that has a large reservoir of sweet water under its soil from which 350,000 tube wells draw as much as 40 MAF water every year, the subsoil water of most of Sindh is as saltish as sea water. This makes river Indus the only source of life in Sindh. Remove Indus, or dry it out. And the difference between existence and extinction starts narrowing fast.
It is precisely for this reason that the forlorn and helpless form of the great river in the shape of a dry bed of swirling sand give rise to so much antipathy against yet another project of damming the river, this time at kalabagh, from which as much as 12.78 MAF water will be syphoned off.
All assurances advanced by the Government of Pakistan and WAPDA that Sindh will be given the required water for irrigation as well as for releasing below Kotri (into the sea), do not find credibility in Sindh because of a number of disturbing indicators.
The statements from responsible official of the federal government, the Punjab government and WAPDA, at first declared Kalabagh Dam as only a storage dam to offset the loss of storage of Tarbela and Mangla, due to siltation. Next came the statements that due to rise in fuel costs and consequent cost of thermal electric generation, cheap hydel power was essential. Much later was learnt that there were plans for a left and right bank canal for irrigation also.
Combined with above, the secretive and surreptitious moves to make Sindh government somehow agree to Kalabagh Dam (mostly through its weak and pliable Chief Ministers), raise grave doubts in the minds of the people of Sindh.
Chashma-Jhelum link canal iis another indicator of doubtful intentions. The 21,000 cusecs canal linking Chasma Barrage with Jehlum river supposed to open only when there was surplus water in Indus and that too with the express permission of the Chief minister of Sindh. (details along with official correspondence are given in the relevant chapter of the book). Now the Chashma-Jhelum link is open all the time even when there is shortage in River Indus, as in the case of kharif 1997.
The World Bank had agreed in 1992 to grant US $ 800,000 for a comprehensive stud of the effects of the reduced water flow down stream of kotri, on the estuaries of Indus. It would have helped compute the advantages of Kalabagh Dam to Punjab against the social, economic and environmental cost to sindh, in case the quantum of water released below Kotri was reduced. This study was shelved because the officials of Punjab did not agree to the Terns of Reference (TOR) of the study. With such examples in front of them the people of sindh are extremely, and rightly, suspicious off all the moves to construct Kalabagh Dam.
Above all else, the constant refusal of Punjab and WAPDA to consider intiation and construction of the much superior Basha Dam raises the fears of Sind to alarming proportions relevant details appear elsewhere in the book. Explained in short, basha dam is also situated on river Indus, has almost equal capacity (5.7 MAF against KBD’s 6.1 MAF) and can generate far more hydel power than KBD. What makes Basha superior is that it can truly be a carry over dam that can store water in the years of plenty for subsequent use of more than one year and, in any case, keep Tarbela Dam Filled for 2 to 4 months more than at present.
Despite Sindh’s severe objections to damming any of the rivers of Indus River System, it can still be persuaded to the construction of Basha Dam if it is agreed that the dam will be filled only in the super flood years and in the lean years it will be allowed to operate as a run of the river hydel power generating dam like Ghazi Barotha.
But such an arrangement will not be acceptable to Punjab (and therefore WAPDA), because it is physically impossible to dteal water from Basha reservoir to irrigate lands in Punjab. Or so the people of Sindh suspect.
Keeping the above facts in perspective and sensing the mood of the people of Sindh, its government and its parliament, sindh democratic party took it upon itself to delve into and research the subject of Kalabagh Dam (or any other mega storage dam on River Indus) and to present the point of view of the lower riparian.
The arty entrusted the work to its secretary General, Mr. Abrar Kazi, who has taken great pains to study, research and present “The Sindh Case”.
Not unmindful of Pakistan’s need for more agricultural produced to feed the ever increasing population, and the country’s need for cheap hydel power, Sindh Democratic Party has presented viable alternates to both aspects of the dilemma.
The dispute over the water of a river flowing through more than one country or more than one province of the same country is not new. In the bygone days of history such disputes never assumed seriousness because water resources available were far greater than the need of the consumers. It is only in recent times, to be more specific, since the beginning of 20th century, that water disptes between states and between provinces became sufficiently acute to warrant serious mediation.
For example dispute of sharing waters of the Nile between Uganda and Egypt was adjudicated by the Nile Commission in 1926 while the Permanent Court of International Justice decided the case of sharing of water of the Muese between Belgium and Netherlands on 28th June 1937.
Even in the subcontinent there was sufficient disagreement between the provinces to warrant the enactment of Northern Indian Canal and Drainage Act, 1873.
Disputes of apportionment of water between different states of the United states of America have been adjudicated upon at very great length by the US supreme court. Some of the celebrated cases are as follows:
• KANSAS V COLORADO (1927) (206 US 46)
• WYOMING V COLORADO (1922) (259 US 419)
• CONNECTICUT V MASSACHUSETTS (1931) (282 US 660)
• NEW JERSY V NEW YORK (1931) (823 US 336)
• ARIZONA V CALIFORNIA (1931) (283 US 423)
• WASHINGTON V OREGON (1936) (297 US 517)
These and many more have left well defined parameters of law, the help of which can be sought by the people of Pakistan to understand the experience of other nations and peoples where water disputes have soured relations.
From the experience of others, at least three major principles of international law can be gleaned.
The first point of law worth mentioning is derived from the british common law. Also applicable to the sub- subcontinent, the law says that, “ A riparian owner or occupier has an unrestricted right to take and use the water of a stream for ordinary domestic purposes such as drinking, washing, and for wants of his cattle”.
Ref: Embrey V Own (1851) 6 EX 353
Swindon Water Work co V. Willts and Berks Canal Navigation Co (1875) LEHC 697
Mc Cartney V Londonderry and Lough Swilly Ry Co (1904) A.C. 301.
The second point to consider is that “As between different appropriations from the same stream, the one first in times is deemed superior in right and a completed appropriation was regarded as effective from the time the purpose to make ti was definitely formed and actual work thereon was begun, provided the work was carried to completion with reasonable diligence’.
The third point to remember emanates from the government of India Act 1935 Section 130 and Section 131(6), that inter-alia recognizes the principle that no province can e given an entirely free hand in respect of a common source of water such as inter-provincial river.
The point is further explained in Prof. H.A.Smith’s “Economic Use of International Rivers” (1931) which examines treaties between independent state since 1785 and states that all these treaties proceed upon the principle that works executed in the territory of one state required the consent of another, if they injuriously affect the interests of the latter.
Examining the riparian rights, the RAO Commission opines in the “the report of Indus commission” (Para 49, page 33), “Pushed to its logical conclusion, this means that a province in which the head waters of a great river are situated can abstract any quantity of water and make a desert of the provinces or states lower down. We have already pointed out that this view is against the trend of international law and that in any event, so far as India is concerned, it would conflict with the manifest intention of section 130 and the succeeding sections of the government of India act 1935”.
The RAO commission and almost all international treaties suggest “equitable apportionments” based on the consent of riparian.
The words “Consent of riparian states” are very important especially so for Pakistan which is a federation of four provinces. If contentious issues, like the waters of a common river, are not resolved through “Consent and consensus”. And a perception develops in one federating unit that other units are taking advantage of it because of its weakness (geographical, numerical or economic) a lasting harm could be caused to the unity of the federation. More so when the emotions run so strong as in the case of Kalabagh Dam.
A further reason to be careful and more sensitive to the feelings of the people (in this case the people of sindh) is the long history of water dispute between sindh and Punjab. Till date no less than six commissions have sat todecide the water issue namely:
1. Anderson Committee 1935
2. Rao Commission 1941
3. Akhtar Hussain Commmittee 1968
4. Fazle Akbar Commission 1970
5. Anwar ul Haq Commission 1981
6. Haleem Commission 1983
Among all these commissions, recommendations of only the RAO Commission of 1941 were able to find acceptance with both the provincial governments of Punjab and sindh. All other commissions suffered from various shortcomings including severe disagreement between the members of the commissions.
Justice Fazle Akber was so exasperated that he recorded the following note:-
“it is regrettable that the members of the committee failed to work out any recommendations for the apportionment of the water of the Indus and its tributaries among the four provinces in West Pakistan. Unfortunately the lack of agreement was not restricted only to the question of apportionment; even on purely technical issues the members had generally failed to agree amongst themselves. I, therefore, had no other alternate but to formulate my own recommendations fro the consideration of the president”.
Our law makers had all these experiences before them and they were fully conscious of the need of developing consensus between the federating unites regarding “equitable water apportionment”. They created Indus River System Authority (IRSA) through an Act of Parliament in 1992 to oversee the distribution and monitoring of the common waters of Indus River System.
IRSA which has one member from each province and its chairmanship rotates n alphabetic order of the names of the provinces, has in its recent meeting of 30.12.1996 pointed to the deficiencies in the design and site location of kalabagh dam by three of its members, from Sindh, NWFP and balochistan.
( Decision of IRSA along with accompanying letter Appendix – I )
It should be noted that all decisions of IRSA must be unanimous, otherwise the aggrieved province can take it case to the council of common interests (C.C.I) which has all Chief Ministers of the four federating unit as members.
So much is the emphasis on the provinces unanimously agreeing to the formula of equitable apportionment of water that if the C.C.I can not decide a matter with consensus, a sitting of the joint session of parliament will decide the issue.
But the matter does not end here. Any federating unit or even a common man of any province. If, it/he feels that the joint session of the parliament has not done justice and has ram rolled the decision to the detriment of a federating unit, can move higher courts to stop execution of the decision.
Seen in this backdrop, and the grave reservations that the provinces of Sindh and NWFP have about kalabagh dam, the project should not be ushed so hard by WAPDA and the province of Punjab. If it is considered that a do or die situation has arrived for Pakistan vis-a-vis the dam (which in the presence of alternate dam sites is hard to imagine), then the differing provinces should be so convinced.
Sindh Democratic Party, as this research work will indicate, thinks otherwise. It considers, as it has argued in this book, that the benefit of the project does not justify the social, economic, and environmental cost, especially to Sindh, and that the huge outlay of about Rs. 450 billion (US $ 10 billion) should be spent on carryover dams upstream of Tarbela and on water management projects that will save much more water than the 6.1 MAF stored by Kalabagh dam, simultaneously reducing the devastating effects of salinity and water logging now being experienced in the Indus plains.
A word of caution for WAPDA. WAPDA is a federal organization that is sustained by funds contributed by all federating units. It should not act in a partisan way advocating the point of view of only one province when all the provinces will pay for its wrong decisions or mistakes. Let the people of all the provinces make the decisions that will affect their lives through the legal and laid down procedures.
Same word of caution must be repeated for the international financing agencies that are interested in undertaking financial arrangements of kalabagh dam. Pakistan is a federation and if a costly project like kalabagh dam is forced down the throats of smaller provinces against international law and justice, the aggrieved provinces have every right to refuse to repay the loans obtained.
I would take this opportunity to appeal to all the intellectuals, human rights groups and all agencies interested in the protection of the environment, inside and outside pakisatn, to study the problem of kalabagh dam and , if they agree with the view of Sindh Democratic Party, to forcefully raise their collective voices against constructions of the dam.
I will also take this opportunity to appeal to my brothers in the siraiki belt that sindh and sindhis will always favour Sirais, especially in their development of agriculture, of for that matter the development of agriculture in punjab. What sindh demands is that its apprehensions should be understood. If viable and superior alternatives are available, as amply indicated in this document, then our sirai, and I must say, Punjabi, brothers should help us avert the extremely harmful kalabagh dam.
In the end I will also like to express sindh Democratic Party’s deep appreciation and gratitude for all those who have contributed in making “The Sindh Case” possible. Without their help, from contributing in the shape of research material and books, to operating computer keyboard and proof reading, our effort at producing an all-encompassing documents would have fallen way short of expectations.
Date: 08-01-1998 Muhammad Yousuf Laghari
Sindh Democratic Party
Kalabagh Dam: The Sindh Case
INDUS RIVER SYSTEM
The majestic River Indus, Originates at 16,000 ft. (5183) above sea level in the glaciers of the northern slopes of Kailash Parbat in Tibet. Starting as a trickle it collects rain water and melting snow from a catchment area of 360,000 Sq. miles (940,000 Sq. km) to become one of the mightiest Rivers of the world, ten times bigger than the Colorado River and twice as large as the Nile.
On its long voyage of 2000 miles (3000 km) it is augmented by ten major rivers: Kabul, Swat, Kohat, Haro and Soan in the Northern Frontier Province and Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Sutlej and Beas in Punjab. The ferocious river, more than a million cusecs (cubic feet per second) at its peak flood time, then passes through 400 miles (600 km) of the plains of Sindh to drain into the salt waters of Arabian Sea.
The Muddy water of River Indus and its tributaries have eons inundated the plains of Punjab and Sindh carrying about 400 million tones of silt per year that have, on the one hand, enriched the plains of Indus basin and, on the other, supported an enormously variegated and kaleidoscopical life in its path and its deltaic estuaries. Remains of so many human settlements scattered all over Punjab and sindh bear testimony to the generous endowment of Indus.
It is said that in the Jurassic period ( 160 million years ago ) Indus valley only existed up to present day Multan and drained into an ocean named Tethyes Sea.
The million tons of silt river Indus carries per day, claimed about 60 ft of land every year from the sea. From the times of the Mesozoic era and throughout the Cenozoic era (70 million years downward) as the bed of the river rose due to sedimentation and the river kept changing its course, at least seven times in the recorded history, whole of sindh was claimed from sea. Perhaps this theory needs to be more closely examined, but the presence of marsh lands in the middle of the desert, Rann of Kutch, where Indus river drained into the sea ages ago and the fact that in overwhelming cases subsoil water reservoirs in Sindh are as saltish as sea water, while whole of NWFP, and most of Punjab has sweet water, is hard evidence giving credence to the hypothesis.
(Map of seven courses of River Indus Appendix – 2)
While passing through Frontier and Punjab, the tributaries of Indus criss-cross the entire length and breadth of the provinces before draining into Indus. But when passing through Sindh and literally bisecting it, the great river enters as an enormous body water that submerges a swath of zigzagging land 600 miles ( 1000 km ) long and at an average 5 miles ( 8 km ) wide before cascading into the Arabian Sea.
This strip of land totaling 1.9 million acres (760,000 hectares) and known as katcho in Sindh, husbands 598,800 ( 240,000 hectares ) of riverine forests and 1,000,000 acres ( 400,000 hectares ) or rich grazing land.
Further down, covering the entire deltaic region, Indus has given birth to 650,000 acres ( 260,000 hectares ) of a thick mangrove forest, sixth largest in the world, that abounds in colourful marine and botanical life.
The quantity of water flowing in the Indus river and its tributaries varies very gently depending upon the quantum of snow and rain water in the catchment areas.
The recorded quantity is a minimum of 100 MAF (million acre feet) in the year 1974 – 75 corresponding to approximately 140,000 cusecs (cubic-feet per second ) of water flowing all year round, to more than 186 MAF in the year 1959 – 60.
Since the British conquest of Sindh (1843) and Punjab (1847) there have been continuous efforts at harressing the waters of Indus river system to irrigate the plain of sindh and Punjab.
Up till now 2 storage dams, 19 barrages, 43 canal subsystems including 11 major link canals have been built on river Indus and its tributaries to create the world’s largest contiguous man made irrigation network comprising of 40,000 miles (64,000 km) of canals, distributaries and minors.
The enormous irrigation system commands 34.5 million acres of land out of which 29.5 million acres ( 11,7 million Ha, 1988-89 data ) are canal irrigated using 105,000 water courses. The vast acreage under cultivation is spread under three million individual farms and consumes about 105 MAF water per year from the Indus river system.
The Majestic River Chained
Previous to British rule, irrigation in Indus Basin was dependent upon inundation canals like east and west Nara canal in upper Sindh and Phulleli and Pinyari in Hyderabad. The first man made canal was perhaps dug in 1639 by Ali Mardan Khan primarily to bring water from Ravi to Shalimar Gardens but its water was also used to irrigate some land around Lahore.
In Sindh the rulers of Kalhora Dynasty ( 1701 AD – 1783 AD ) were great canal builders and agriculturists. They built 10 mile long. Nurwah branching from the then inundation canal Begari; 2 mile long Shah-Ji-Kur and 20 mile long Date-Ji-Kur which are now absorbed in Warah canal. They also built Nusrat Wah, Murad Wah and Bag and Feroza Branches in central Sindh that have been absorbed by the present Rohri canal.
However The British visualized the tremendous potential of harnessing waters of River Indus and its tributaries into producing grain for the whole of India and cotton for the textile industries of Manchester. Therefore immediately after the conquest of Punjab in 1847, work on Central Bari Doab canal from Ravi was started ( 1859 ).
The success of Central Bari Doab canal was followed by Sidhnai canal, lower Chenab and Lower Jehlum Canals ( 1885 – 1901 ); Paharpur Canal ( 1908 ), Upper Swat canal (1914 ) and triple canal project (Upper Jehlum, Upper Chenab, lower Bari Doab ) in 1915.
With the completion of the ambitious Sutlej Valley Project in 1932, comprising of 11 canals and 4 head works, much of Punjab was brought under canal irrigated agriculture.
In the same year (1932) Sukkar Barrage was completed on River Indus opening up the plains of Sindh for extensive canal irrigation. Trimmu head work on Chenab was completed in 1939 followed by Kalabagh (or Jinnah) Barrage on river Indus. Three more barraged were commissioned on Indus after the partition. Kotri Barrage was built in 1955 closely followed by Taunsa in 1958 and Guddu in 1962.
With the commissioning of so many barrages and canals, substantial quantity of water was removed from Indus River System in order to meet the irrigation needs of the growing population of the country.
A massive depletion of water resources of Indus River System then occurred under the provision of Indus Water Treaty between India and Pakistan when a colossal mass of 33 MAF water was abruptly removed by surrendering three Punjab river to India.
(To understand how much water 33 MAF is, it should be noted that the huge perennial canals like Rohri canal and Phulleli, when they flow all year round, take about 3 MAF each).
Signed in September 1960, some articles of the treaty are as under:
II (1) All the waters of the Eastern Rivers (defined as the stulej, Beas and Ravi)
shall be available for unrestricted use of India.
(2) Except for domestic use and non-consumptive use, Pakistan shall be under an obligation to let flow, and shall not permit an interference with, the waters of Sutlej Main and Ravi Main in the reaches where those rivers flow in Pakistan and have not yet finally crossed into Pakistan.
III (1) Pakistan shall receive for unrestricted use all those waters of the Western
Rivers (defined as the Indus, Jhelum and Chenab) which india is under
obligation to let flow.
Thus Indus River System lost water of its tree eastern rivers in place of a loan to construct 2 storage dams, 5 barrages, one gated siphon and 8 link canals to divert some of the water of western rivers into the now dry eastern rivers, under the Treaty.
As per agreement Pakistan built the following 2 dams:
(i) Mangla Dam was built on Jhelum in 1967 to store 5.3 MAF.
(ii) Tarbela was also built on Indus in 1974 to store 9.3 MAF.
The loss of three eastern rivers and their 33 MAF; the two dams storing 14.6 MAF and the 19 barrages and head works taking 105 MAF of water per year have completed the process of chaining the once mighty Indus that used to flow into the Arabian Ocean, not so long ago.
Today, in most years, River Indus is a trickle of water in an otherwise dry bed of swirling sand. Only in some years, when is an extra ordinary rainfall in the catchment areas, does the flow of water become sufficient to be called a flood.
Despite severe depletion of water resources of Indus River System, Pakistan’s most populous and most powerful province Punjab and WAPDA ( Water and Power Development Authority ), are insistent that they want to build yet another mega storage dam on River Indus at Kalabagh with the purpose of draining another 12.86 MAF water for irrigation.
The Kalabagh Dam (KBD) is proposed to be located at about 120 miles (200 km) downstream of Tarbela dam. According to PC – II, stage III Proferma, when constructed.
Quote “ it is expected to be 260 ft high and would create a reservoir of 6.1 million acre feet (MAF) of usable storage. The annual production of energy would amount to about 11,200GWh (Giga Watt Hours) generated by a hydro power plant of 2,400 MW capacity. This capacity may ultimately be increased to 3,600 MW making Kalabagh one of the largest single hydrogenation of dams in Asia. The total project cost covering civil and power facilities as estimated by the consultants at June 1987 prices will be about US $ 5.153 billion including interest during construction, customs duties and taxes and price contingencies” – unquote.
(Dam Particulars Appendix – 3)
(Site Plan Appendix – 4)
The objectives of the project given in Pc – II, Stage – 3 are as under:
The proposed Kalabagh Dam is multipurpose. Its main objectives are:
(1) To generate large amounts of low cost hydro electric power near major load centres, and supply the existing grid for meeting the growing power demand of agriculture, industrial and domestic consumers. In addition to increase the energy output of the existing Tarbela scheme by permitting the conjunctive operation of the two reservoirs.
(2) To provide additional storage on the Indus and thus reduce the existing system shortfall in irrigation requirements.
(3) To provide additional regulation on the Indus River the biggest source of surface water in Pakistan, and thus provide better system control and management for supplying assured, adequate and timely irrigation water for crops.
(4) To compensate for the storage loss due to the silting up of existing reservoirs till such time that their substitutes, presently being planned, are actually available.
(5) To eliminate and control flood peaks of the Indus to minimize flood hazards downstream.
(6) To increase Pakistan’s capability to manage its water distribution and power generation systems through the conjunctive operation of Tarbela and Kalabagh Reservoirs.
According to the same PC - II:
Field Studies for the Kalabagh Dam Project were initiated by the Government of Pakistan in 1953. Until 1973, the project was basically considered as a storage project for meeting irrigation needs. However, the oil crises of 1973 and the consequent rapid increases in the cost of energy have greatly enhanced the priority of Kalabagh as a power project.
After engaging many consultants and field studies, spread over more than 3 decades, Stage I covering detailed investigation and preparation of the project planning report commenced in March’ 84 establishing the technical & economic feasibility of the project. Stage II covering preparation of detailed designs and tender documents for civil work including the preparation of documents commenced in March’ 84 and was completed by December ’85.
So far studies on feasibility and documentation have cost the Government of Pakistan Rs.1 Billion.
The dispute on Kalabagh Dam has raged between the four provinces of Pakistan since 1984 when the proposal left the drawing boards of WAPDA and surfaced for the public to see and debate. Punjab, where the Dam is located favours the project for the professed reason that the country needs electric power and the Kalabagh Dam will provide 3,600 MW of the energy. An additionally reason cited is the urgent need to store more water to compensate for the strage capacity being lost due to the fast silting up of the Tarbela and MAngla dams. What is not always declared however, and has only been drudgingly released for public knowledge, is the Punjab wishes to irrigate 380,000 acres of land (146,000 ha) on both banks of Mianwali, Khushad &Jhelum districts through a canal off taking from the left Bank High Level Outlet Works of KBD that will draw 15,000 cusecs of water from the KBD reservoir. The same canal will also meet water shortages in the Mangla command area before discharging into the Jhelum River upstream of Rasul Barrage. Yet another 15,000 cusecs canal is proposed to be tapped from the Right Bank of the dam that will irrigate 2.12 million acres in the Kurram Basin of D.I.Khan.
NWFO objects to the dam primarily because of a sizeable number of its people will be displaced, and vast area of its lands and services will be submerged under the reservoir. River Indus does not touch the province of Balochistan therefore it is not directly affected, but its still objects that its share of water, already very low, will be further reduced. However it is the province of Sindh which as lower riparian has constantly felt threatened by Punjab and has bitterly disputed the figures of water availability advanced by Punjab and WAPDA citing legal, economic, ecological, geomorphological, and many other reason for opposing Kalabagh Dam.
So acute have been the differences between Punjab and Sindh over the sharing of the water of Indus river system that no less than 6 commissions have deliberated up on an equitable appropriation of the waters between both provinces :-
1. Anderson Commission 1935
2. The Indus Commision (Also Known As Rao Commission) 1941
3. Akhter Hussain Committee 1968
4. Indus Waters Committee (Also known as Fazle Akber Committee1970
5. Anwarul Haq Commission (Aborted) 1981
6. Haleem Commission 1983
And with the notable exception of Rao Commission of 1941, so wide has been the difference in the perception of both provinces about their rightful share of water and so acrimonious the debate, that Justice Fazle Akber was constrained to write “ it is regrettable that the members of the committee failed to work out any recommendations for the apportionment of the waters of the Indus and its tributaries among the four provinces in West Pakistan. Unfortunately the lack of agreement was not restricted only to the question of apportionment; even on purely technical issues the members had generally failed to agree amongst themselves. I therefore had no other alternate but to formulate my own recommendations for the President”.(13)
The bitterness continues till date as Justice Fazle Akber had written, not over the apportionment of water alone but right down to technical matters. Kalabagh Dam is only one unresolved water related issue among many. For example The technical committee on Water Resources (TCWR) set up by General Musharraf that submitted its report in Aug 2005 and had eight members, two from each province, beside the chairman, MIR ANG Abassi (14), could not agree on almost all issues. The TCWR had the advantage of the presentations and bast data available with wapda, IRSA (Indus River System Authority), the Ministries of water and Power and of planning Department but even it could not agree on as simple a technical matter as the guantum of water available in the system. The seven members, two each from Punjab, NWFP and Balochistan and a non-Sindhi member from Sindh had one opinion, the other member from Sindh the second, Wapda is Augures individual the 3rd opinion and the Chairman had the fourth opinion.
Before 1859 when the first man made canal, upper Bari Doab, was drawn from Ravi by the British, cultivation on Indus Basin was only possible through lifting water from inundation canals (for example east and west Nara, Phulleli) and from subsoil reservoir and a few miles of primitives canals made by previous rulers. Surface water irrigation was possible only in the case of rain fed (Barani) lands and those areas around rivers that were left moist, like Katcho, due to overflowing rivers in summer season. Out of the two sowing season abundant water was available for Kharif (sowing April, May) while in Rabi (sowing November, December) there was always shortage due to sources of water freezing in Himalayas.
Realising the scope of mischief the subject of water could play between various provinces of India, the British set up India Irrigation Commission (1901 - 1903) that, among other things ordered Punjab to obtain assent of Sindh before undertaking projects concerning water of the Indus River System. The Government of India Act 1919 made it mandatory that all disputes of water between Sindh and Punjab provinces be decided by the Viceroy of India.
A “Cotton Committee” was set up in 1919 and it reported the same year that Punjab should not be allocated water from Indus till the effects of construction of the proposed Sukker Barrage had not become evident.
In September 1919 government of Punjab presented Thal project as against Sukker Barrage project which was rejected outright by the Viceroy Lord Chelmsford.
The Sukker Barrage project was conceived by Chief Engineer Sindh, Mr. A.A.Musto and the project was approved by The government of India in July 1923. The barrage was commissioned nine years later in July 1932.
But immediately after the work had started on Sukker Barrage, Punjab in Sept 1925 once again presented its Thal project to government of India. Once again it was rejected, this time by Viceroy Lord Reading, who cited grievous injustice to the interests of the lower riparian as reason for rejection of that project.
The water dispute between Sindh and Punjab had b this time reached such proportion that government of India was forced to constitute an eight member committee, under Chief Engineer of UP, Mr. Anderson. The report of Anderson Committee was presented to the government of India on 16th Sept 1935 which accepted all its recommendations in a letter issued on 30th March 1937.
The terms of reference of Anderson Committee were:
1. The extent to which additional supplies of water are actually required for (a) the Khaipur State; (b) The Bahawalpur State; (c) the Haveli Project.
2. The possibility of finding such supplies without detriment to the parties interested in the waters of the Indus and its tributaries and the effect upon the existing or prospective rights of those parties of any fresh withdrawals, the authorization of which the committee may recommend.
The Sindh government did not agree with the recommendations of Anderson Committee and again took its case to the Government of India, which on 11th September 1941 set up another commission under MR. B.N.Rao, Judge of Culcutta High Court, with instructions to find a lasting solution for the continuing water dispute between the two provinces. The commission studied the complaints of Sindh and the rebuttals of Punjab and came out with an exhaustive “Report of the Indus Commission” which became the basis of deliberations between the Governments of Sindh and Punjab.
1. The extent to which additional supplies of water are actually required for (a) the khairpur State: (b) the Bahawalpur State: (c) the Haveli Project.
2. The possibility of finding such supplies without detriment to the parties interested in the waters of the Indus and its tributaries and the effect upon the existing or prospective rights of those parties of any fressh withrawals, the authorization of which the committee may recommend.
The Sindh Government did not agree with the recommendations of Anderson Committee and again took its case to the Government of India, which on 11 th Septermbe 1941 set up another commissin under Mr. B.N.Rao, Judge of Calcutta High Court, with instruction to find a lasting solution for the continuing water dispute between the two provinces. The commission studied the complaints of Sindh and the rebuttals of Punjab and came out with an exhaustive “Report of the Indus Commision” which became the basis of deliberation between the Governments of Sindh and Punjab.
The rerms of reference of the Rao Commission are as under:
COMPLAINT OF SINDH AND PROJECTS COMPLAINED OF: This is a complaint by the Government of Sindh under section 130 of the Government of India Act 1935. The complaint relates to certain irrigation projects constructed or contemplated by the Government of the Punjab on the Indus and its tributaries. These projects, as set out in paragraphs 3, 4 and 28 of Sindh,s printed complaint, part-I, are:
1. The Haveli project -------------------- already in operation:
2. The Thal project -------------------- under construction:
3. The Bhakra Dam project ----------- in contermplation:
4. 24 storage reservioirs with an assumed capacity of 500,000 acres-feet (1 acre-foot= 43,560 cubic feet) each, on the effluents of the Indus, Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas: and
5. Feeders to transfer water (subject to certain conditions) from the Ravi to the Beas and from the Chenab to the Beas with a total assumed withdrawal of 23,000 cusects (1 cusec= 1 cubic foot per second or about 2 cre-feet per day) at its highest-said to be in conteplation (15)
Relying heavily on international law, especially American law, which had experienced many inter-state disputes of water, the Rao Commission based its recommendation on three principles:
1. No province/state can be given and entirely free hand in respect of a common source of water such as an inter provincial/state river.
2. Works executed in the territory of one province/state require the consent of another, if they injuriously affect the interests of the latter.
3. In a dispute of appropriation of water from the same stream, the one first in time is superior in right
The deliberation between the Governments of Sindh and Punjab started in April 1943 and concluded in a Draft Agreement on 28th September, 1945. Known as Sindh-Punjab Agreement 1945, signed by Chief Engineers of both provinces on behalf of their respective governments, the Draft Agreement settled the thorny issue of apportionment of water of Indus and its tributaries, laying down the broad principles of settling disputes that were vven likely to arise in future.
In a letter to the Government of Sindh, Government of Punjab, through its secretary (public Works, Lrrigation Branch) accepted the Draft Agreement. Its only objection was on the amount o Rs 20 million that the Rao Commission had recommended Punjab to pay to Sindh against the cost of 120 million for building 2 barrages in Sindh (16)
Unfortunately, the political events in the subcontinent overtook all other busincess of governance soon after, and the Sindh Punjab agreement was never ratified by the two provincial legislatures. Howvever it remains the only agreement ever that was agreed upon by the governments of Sindh and Punjab and for this reason the recommendations of Rao Commission continue to be considered credible till date and have been acted upon till as late as 1990. (17)
A complex and very harmful dimensin was added to the water dispute betwenn Sindh and Punjab when water of 3 rivers, Sutlej, Beas and Ravi, was lost to India.
Sir Simon Radcliff, after he drew the faterful red line separating pakistan from India, formed a Division of Assets Committee, also known as committee B, that consisted of officials from each government department, one from either side, to oversee the difficulties arising out of the Partition. An Arbitral Tribunal headed by the chief justice of India was also set up to adjusticate on matters that could not be resdved in the Division of Assets Committee.
The life of both committees was fixed till 31st March 1948 by which time ti was expected that complication arising out of the division of assets and liabilities of each government department would be over.
The West Punjab secretary of irrigation S.I.Mehboob was nominated on Committee B. Since Ferozepur Head Works on river Sutlej was to be in India and tis Dipalpur canal as flowing through pakistan and similarly, since Madhupur Head Works was to remain in India while Central Bari Doab canal flowing from it was crossing over into pakistan and both canals could easily be closed, S.I.Mehboob succeeded in getting the tricky matter fixed on the agenda of Committee B.
When the matter was fixed for discussion by the committee, government of pakistan committed a grave mistake by nominating khan bahadur shaikh abdul Hameed, onother secretary irrigation form Punjab, in place of S.I.Mehboob.
Incredibly Mr.Kanwar Sen the Indian nominee persuaded K.B Sheikh abdul Hameed to withdraw the apportionment of water from the agenda of Committee B altogether!!
It is asaid that Kanwar Sen was an old colleague of K.B. Sheikh Abdul Hameed in combined India and played upon the intensive rivalry between Hameed and S.I.Mehboob (18)
India allowed both canals to flow to the brim till exactly 31st March 1948 when the life of Committee B and the Arbitral Tribunal ended. On 1st April 1948 both canals were effectively closed and all hell broke loose in Punjab.
Ghulam Mohammed the finance minister of Pakistan accompanied by Mumtaz Daultana and Shoukat Hayat Khan and a few officials from West Punjab rushed to Dehli to plead with Mr. Jawahar Lal Nehru, the Indian premier. Mr.Nehru informed the harried delegates that by removing the apportionment of water from the agenda of committee B, Pakistan had in principle accepted Indian right over the of water of Sutlej and Ravi. He demanded monetary compensation to allow the now Indian waters to flow into Pakistan.
Pakistan Government committed the 2nd, and immensely bigger, mistake of allowing its delegates to sign the agreement in on 4th May 1948 in Delhi, as mentioned by Choudhry Mohammed Ali in which they agreed to pay compensation, or seigniorage charges, to India.
Choudhry Mohammad Ali in his book, The Emergence of Pakistan (19) narrates this episode as under:-
“Despite the fact that the Radcliffe Award had placed the control of headworks vital for pakistan in the hands of India, the West Punjab government remained content because of the agreement reached by Committee B and the Punjab Partition Committee, that the prepartition shares of water would not be varied. No formal document specifying the precise shares of East Punjab and West punjab in irrigation waters was drawn up and signed. The West punjab ministers and officials felt assured by the repeated declarations of their counterparts in East Punjab that there was no question of any change in the prepartition arrangements for canal waters. The same declaration were also made by the East Punjab respresentatives beiore the Arbitral Tribunal, when the sisputed question of the valuation of the canal system came up for a hearing. Actually, as events showed, the East punjab ministers and officials were planning a deadly blow against pakistan and were lulling the West punjab government to sleep with swee\et words. They were waiting for the day when the life of the Arbitral Tribunal would come to an end on March 31, 1948. On the side of East Punjab there was Machiavellian duplicity. On the part of West Punjab there was neglect of duty, complacency, and lack of common prudence --- which had disastrous consequences for pakistan.
On April 1, 1948, the day after the Arbitral Tribunal ceased to exist, the East punjab government cut off water supplies in every canal crossing into pakistan. These consisted of the Central Bari Doab canal system, the Dipalpur canal system, and the Bahawalpur state distributary. Of this action, Sir patrick Spens, Chairman of the Arbitral Tribunl, said before the joint meeting in London of the East India Association and the Overseas League on February 23, 1955:
I remember very well suggesting whether it was not desirable that some order should be made about the continued flow of water,
… But we were invited by both the Attorney-Generals [of India and pakistan] to come to our decision on the basis that there ould be no interference whatsoever with the then existing flow of water, and the award which my colleagues made, in which I had no part, they made on that basis. Our awards were published at the end of March, 1948. I am going to say nothing more about it except that I was very much upset that almost within a day or two there was a grave interference with the flow of water on the basis of which our awards had been made.”
As soon as the Arbitral Tribunal ceased to exist, all promises made before it by the representative of India that “there would be no interference whatsoever with the then existing flow of water” were forgotten and water was shut off from pakistan canals on which the irrigation of 1.66 million acres depended. East Punjab now contended that Pakistan had no right to any water and demanded seigniorage charges as a condition for reopening the canals, There was acute distress which, ith every day that passed, became more and more intolerable. In large areas where the subsoil water is brackish there was no drinking water. Millions of People faced the ruin of their crops, the loss of their heards, and ventual starvation due to lack of water.
Under these distressful circumstances, a delegation was sent from pakistan to Delhi in the beginning of May, 1948, to seek a solution to the problem. The delegation was led by Ghulam mhammad, the Finance Minister of pakistan, and included two ministers from west Punjab – Shaukat Hayat khan and Mumtaz Daultana. At the meetings in Delhi, East Punjab resresentatives insisted that they would not restore the flow of water to the canals unless West punjab ac-knowledged that it had no right to the water. To this the representatives of West punjab could not agree.The pakistan proposal that the two governments should submit their differences to the arbitration of the International Court of Justice was not acceptble 1, India. There was an impasse. Ghulam Muhammad appealed to Mountbatten who consulted with Nehru. A statement was then placed before Ghulam Muhammad, and he was asked to sign it without changing a word or a comma – a condition for restoring the flow of water.
On May 4, 1948 thestatement was signed by Ghulam Muhammad and the two west punjab ministers on the one hand and by nehru and two East punjab ministers on the other. The statement declared that, apart from the question of law involved, the governments were anxious to approach the problem in a practical spirit. The East punjab government would progressively diminish its supply to the central Bari Doab and Dipalpur canals in West punjab in order to give reasonable time to the West punjab government to tap alternative sources. The statement announced that water was being restored to these canals, that west punjab was to deposit in esorow such “ad hoc sum as may be specified by the prime Minister of India” to cover certain disputed payments, and that after an examination by each side of the legal and other issues invlved, futher Meetings would take place. In conclusion, the Dominion governments expressed the hope that a friendly solution would be reached.
Though India restored the flo of water to the Dipalpur canal and the principal branches of the Central Bari Doab canals, water was still withheld from the Balawalpur state distributary and nine lesser distributaries of the Central Bari Doab system. Eventually considerable areas in Bahawalpur state reverted to desert Notwithstanding the compulsion under which the arrangement was signed, pakistan performed its part and deposited in escrow the same specifid by the prim Minister of India.
Sardar Saukat Hayat in his book, The Nation That Lost Its Soul (20)
corroborates the broad facts of the whole sordid mess with additional information:-
“The Division of Asset committee had been formed in East and West Punjab and met alternately at Lahore and jallandur, the temporary capital of East punjab. The rules were that, in case of differences between us, the case would be refereed to the Arbitral Tribunal headed by the Chief justice of India, Sir patrick Sens.
“The question of Division of water between Indian and pakistan punjab was to be decided at a meeting to be held in jallandur. I attended this particular meeting along with the secretary Cum Chief Engineer of the Irrigation Department Mr.Abdul Hameed, and the chief secretary Hafiz Abdul Majeed ICS. We were accommodated in a ramshackle old hotel.
“The next day we had to tackle the matter of the division of water on which our economty entirely depended. We discussed it amongst our own party and came to the conclusion that even if we took this problem to the Arbitral Tribunal and got a favorable decision, how were we going to get it implemented when the Headworks had been unfairly allotted to India in the so-called Raccliffe Award Therefore, we decided that we should find a via media to share the expenses of running the Head works and part of the canal system located in the East punjab. The Hindus, after long discussion, came to an agreement. Alas, in keeping with their chanakian (Machiavellian) philosophy they reneged later, a day after the end of the Arbitral Tribunal. They stopped our share of water from the Head works at Madhopur feeding Barjdoab and from the Ferozepur Headwork which supplied water to Dipalpur Canal, irrigation the Montgomery area, and to the Bahawalpur Canal. This came as a deep shock to me.”
Sir Feroze Khan Noon in his book, from memory (21)
Inforduces yet another dimension to the sordid late:- (P-264)
International Cort of Justice at The Hague, because no Court could have denied s our riparian rights of the waters of the Eastern Rivers. But what is the use of winning suits in Court, if such a decision cannot be backed up by the physical power to enforce it?
The Indus Water Teaty, the negotiations for which had started in March 1952 under the aegis of World Bank (then known as International Bank for Reconstruction and development, IBRD), presented perhaps the last chance to correct the wrong committed during the previous two occasions. But that was not to be.
In 1951 Mr. David E. Lilienthal, former head of the, seven state Tennessee Vlley Authority (T.V.A), on the model of which WAPDA is established, visited India and pakistan. He recorded his observation in an article captioned “Another Korea in the Making?” which appeared in the 4th August 1951 issue of “Colliers” magazine. (22)
Mr. Lilienthal called the water dispute between India and pakistan “pure dynamite” and “a powder keg”. He warned that “peace in Indo-pak sub-continent is not in sight with these inflammables lying around” and that “these people will live or die by the way they handle the waters of Indus”.
He proposed “a joint use of this truly international river basin on an engineering basis” that would make the riparians work together on a “common project that is not political but functional, a part of life and based on technical skill and human need”
The project was proposed to be “jointly financed”, (perhaps with the help of World Bank) and the Indus River System was to be “developed as a unit --- disigned, built and operated as a unit, as is the seven-state T.V.A system bach in the U.S.A”.
The quantum of water that Mr.Lilienthal was referring to in the Indus River System and was to be divided by Indus Water Treaty was as follows:
Western Rivers (23) Eastern Vivers (24)
Indus 90 MAF Sutlej 14 MAF
Jehlum 23 MAF Beas 13 MAF
Chenab 26 MAF Ravi 3 MAF
Total 140 MAF or 80% Total 33 MAF or 20%
The break up of the 33 MAF of the Eastern rivers was: (25)
Quantum reaching pakistan 24 MAF
Indian canal withdrawals 9 MAF
Total 33 MAF
The cultivable area of the Indus Basin within paistan and india and that which was served with canal irrigation wa:- (26)
1 Cultivable area of indus Basin 74.8 7.6 91% 9%
2 Cultivable area served by 30.7 2.1 94% 6%
3 Remaining cultivable area within Indus Basin 44.1 5.5 88% 12%
The pakisntan delegation which had at least one member each from the riparian provinces of West pakistan along with members from Bahawalpur and Khairpur states, had an iron clad case in their favour. Though al! five Punjab rivers originated in India, the cultivable area of the Indus Basin in that country was only 9% out of which als only 6% was canal irrigated.
In stopping the waters flowing into Pakistan India was committing an act of grave provocation (27). It was claiming absolute sovereignty on the waters flowingy through its territory. But the doctrine of absolute sovereignty, also referred to as the Harmon Doctrine, was dead and buried by the end or 19th century (28), 50 years before India raised and utilized it. In these fifty years international law on the rights of riparian states on international rivers was evolving and taking shape. For example in the U.S.A which had 51 states then, and a number of inter-state rivers, the Supreme Court had adjudicated on a multilude of intricate disputes handing down brilliant and truly land mark decisions, the help of which could easily have been sought by the Pakistan delegation negotiationg with India under IBRD.
The case of Lac Lanoux is an apt example. River Carol crosses from France into the Spanish Pyrenees. In the early 1950s, France, asserting absolute sovereignty, proposed to divert water from the river at Font-Vine for hydropower generation. It offered to compensate Spain monetarily. Spain objected asserting that the riverine integrity (basin integrity) be kept supreme and its irrigation needs be given priority. Even when France agreed to divert back first the water needed for Spanish irrigation, and then all the diverted water, through a tunnel between watersheds, Spain insisted on absolute riverine integrity, claiming that it did not want French hands on the water tap. The arbitral tribunal ruled in 1957 that “Territorial integrity … must bend before all international obligation”. This ruling made possible the 1958 Lac Lanoux Treaty (revised in 1970), in which it is agreed that such water that is diverted out-of-basin for French hydropower generation, must be returned, in similar quantity, before the stream reaches Spanish territory.(29)
The astonishing letter of Mr.M.S Qureshi reads
“Provincial consideration were allowed to influence judgement and action. Indus link was at first recommended to government without even a mention to any of the senior members of the delegation. The proposal was turned down by the government. It playd no part in our negotiations with the Indians or the bank. When the senior members were consulted, they unanimously opposed even a mention of the link. Mr.Hameed went to the extent of offering a bait to Mr. Hassan, representative of Bahawalpur that through such a link Bahawalpur canals at Sullemanki would receive Rabi supplies from the Indus. Mr. Hassan knew the position of supplies and as a matter of principle he refused to support him saying that he was there to fight the case of Pakistan and not of a particular province or state. Internal disputes were best left over to the future.
“In the same manner every attempt was made to throw out Sindh,s uses from the western tributaries. Incorrect calculations were embodied in the Pakistan plan to the effect that not only the allocations of the new barrages on the Indus would be met in April, May but that there would be surplus left over for development. Both Mr.Hassan and myseflf disagreed and Mr. Tiptons calculations supported our conclusion that in actuality in most of the years there would be shortages. After much persuasion and addendum was issued by Mr. Hameed showing the serious nature of shortages in these months.
“Mr.Hameed regarded Pakistan,s waters as though they were his personal property. At frist his secretary Mr. Khalilur Rehman who is supposed to be the custodian of his inner feelings, started belittling allocation and saying that ultimately these rights would be given up I protested to Mr.Hameed against this Loose talk and made it very clear that not a single drop of allocated supplies will be parted with.
“Later MrHameed told Mr.Sarwar Jan Khan that for sake of an agreement he would even give up allocations and the same day he told Mr. Hassan that he would even agree to marhutunnel if Pakistan was given control over that strip of land. It did not bother Mr.Hameed whether this additional diversion of water by India did any damage to Pakistan.
“The Pakistan Designer (Mr.Hameed) also unfortunately failed to their confidence of the senior members of the delegation. It may be recalled here that Mr.Hameed happened to be the senior most Muslim enginer in the Punjab at the time of partition. He failed to put up the case of division of waters to the Paartition Committee and later before the arbitral tribunal. It was he who without any consultation with his government on the waters of Ravi and Sutlej undertook seigniorage charges. He therefore was very keen to reach an agreement at all costs. The senior members of the delegation on the other hand insisted upon acting on the advice of Honourabl Mr. Mohammed Ali Finance Minister who on the 2nd September 1953 advused as fikkiws:
“The delegation should be reasonable but at the same time should never give up merely for the sake of agreement more than was in Pakistan,s long term interest to vive up. The delegation should be reasonable but firm”.
“There was thus a difference in outlook which was no very conducive to good team work.
“Mr.Naseer,s pleading with General Wheeler that they could not afford to go back without an agreement only convinced the bank that Pakistan would accept anything for the sake of agreement.
“Even this most detrimental proposal seemed most palatable to Mr.Hamee. His secretary (Mr.Khalilur Rehman) and he hiself agreed with Mr.Sarwar Jan Khan on about the 1st April 1954 that no decision could be expected from a government that was tottering.
“Decision might as well be taken in Washington and the responsibility would not be that of the Engineers but of someone else. Perhaps he referred to Mr.Naseer Ahmed.
“Mr. Sarwar Jan Khan ridiculed any such venture as being absolutely beyond their jurisdiction”.
The desperation shown by the members from Punjab to reach an agreement (as indicated by Mr.M.S.Qureshi) and the intense difference of opinion among members of Pakistan delegation must have made the Indians ecstatic.
Whth the advantage of hind sight it can safely be said that the politicians of India and the senior irrigation officials, then, must have easily analysed the political situation of West Pakistan and the out come of the “parity” drive with the Eastern Wing. It is equally safe to say that they must have known who will wield the power and the privilege in the about-tobecome political unity of West Pakistan.
They delayed the negotiation sufficiently, aided by the dithering Pakistan delegation, till One Unit was proclaimed on 15th Oct 1955 effectively merging all four provinces (Punjab, Sindh, NWFP, Balochistan) and federal capital (then Karachi) into a single province, West Pakistan.
Needless to say that the negotiating team was disbanded and a fresh negotiating team constituted under the name of Indus Basin Advisory Board (IBAB). All pesky members from smaller provinces were dropped and following members, all, without exception, from Punjab, included:-(31)
K.B.M.Adbul Hameed C.E Punjab
Mr. Altaf Hussain
In the presentation before justice Fazle Akber in 1971, the agent of Sindh, AWF Shaikh commenting on this team, said (32), “Sir, at that time, Mr.A.R.Kazi S.Q.A, (presently chief Engineering advisor to Government of Pakistan) who is the senior-most civil Engineer serving in Pakistan, was chief Engineer (Water) WAPDA, but it was unfortunate for Sindh that he was not included in the IBAB. His inclusion was all the more necessary because it was WAPDA which had to get the works constructed as an Agent to central Government. It is surprising that Junior Executive Engineers and superintending Engineers of Pnjab Service were included but an Engineer of such a high calibre and status was not included simply because… I need not elabrate the inference which is there”.
As was expected, Indus Water Treaty was signed on 19th Sept 1960 in Karachi by the president of Pakistan (Ayub Khan) and Prime Minister of India (Jawahir Lal Nehru) surrendering Pakistan’s right on the three eastern tributaries of Indus. Sutlej, Beas and Ravi, in return for 175 million dollars from India. Another $ 150 million were granted by other countries and World Band loaned $ 150 million to construct Mangla dam on Jehlum, along with a number of link canals, as replacement works to drain water of Indus and Jehlum into the dry beds of the three eastern tributaries. All details of the Treaty and the financial arrangements were finalized by the IBAB.
Some very disturbing question’s remain in th IBAB decisin of signing Indus Water Treaty:-
1. Why was India, which had 9% cultivable area and only 6% canal irrigated land of Indus Basin, given 33 MAF or 20% water of Indus River System? The result can be seen 40 years later that India has taken the hage 18500 Cusic Rajasthan canal from the Harike barrage at the confluence of rivers Sutlej and Beas.
2. What was the secret agreement mentioned by Shaukat Hayat Khan when he writes that, “therefore we decided that we should find a via media to share the expenses of running the Head Works and part of the canal system located in the East Punjab. The Hindus, after long discussion came to an “agreement”. Alas, in keeping with their Chanakian (Machiavelian) philosophy they reneged later” (34).
At what levd was This agreement authorized and by whom? Was the fedral government consulted and where is the record of such consultation and authorization?
3. Was it a conspiracy conceived and orchestrated by the west Panjab’s official and politicians by means of which Sindh, which was a co-sharer of the eastern tributaries, was sidelined and the historic conflict between Sindh and Panjab was turned into a quarrel between East Punjab and west Panjab, and then between India and Pakistan?(35)
Was it a continuation of the thought prevailant in those early days of Pakistan that the struggling new state would not survive and therefore the oppurtunity be availed by which, before the two states merged again to become one whole India, Sindh Punjab dispute was setteld by dividing the waters of the eastern tributaries between the two Panjabs leaving Sindh out cold and dry?
4. Looking at the chain of events starting from the removel of the item of assessment of irigation assets from the of agenda of Commettee b
Differing Points of View on Kalabagh Dam
Kalabagh dam is extremely advantageous for Punjab even if it is equally harmful for the other riparian provinces. The point of view of Punjab therefore, shared enthusiastically by WAPDA, officially declared and unofficially felt, is:
i. Kalabagh Dam will generate 3600 MW of cheap hydroelectricity when the country is short of energy. Since the hydel power generation will be situated in the geographical boundaries of Punjab, the royalty of hydel power will also go to the province. The substantial industrial activity in Punjab will get a tremendous boost with the availability of less expensive power.
ii. The quantity of water stored in the Tarbela and Mangla dam reservoirs is gradually decreasing due to sedimentation. Therefore and additional storage dam is urgently needed. Other wise the advantage of “Green revolution” would not be sustainable.
iii. The third dam on Indus River System will substantially increase the total quantity of stored water, so that additional and timely releases for irrigation purposes will be made, increasing food grain production.
iv. KBD will help reduce, or avert, the effects of floods by absorbing and storing the peak flood flows.
Water from Kalabagh Dam will be used for irrigation through two canals tapped from the right bank and left bank outlet works as follows:
a. The left bank canal will be 170 miles (272 Km) long and will have a capacity of 15,000 cusecs. It will lift about 6.65 MAF water annually from the dam, to irrigate 380,000 acres (145,000 ha) falling on both of its sides as it passes through Mianwali, Khushab and Jehlum districts. The Rabi and Kharif requirements for the cultivation is expected to be 0.78 MAF and 1.23 MAF respectively. The remaining 4.65 MAF water is proposed to be drained into Jehlum at Rasul Barrage to meet the shortage of Mangla command.
(Source : Salient Features of KBD: Revised June 1989, by WAPDA)
b. The Right Bank canal is to be 98 miles (157 Km) long and will draw another 15,000 cusecs from the KBD to irrigate 2.12 million acres lifting 6.21 MAF per year. The canal is to be so constructed that it will irrigate 651,300 acres of Dera Ismail Khan beyond CRB canal command. Another 732,500 acres are proposed to be irrigated by lifting the water 50 to 260 feet. Yet another 733,700 acres are proposed to be irrigated in Kurran Basin by lifting water to an incredulous 700 feet!!.
(Source : Salient Featues of KBD : Revised June 1989)
v. Punjab considers all water flowing into sea a total “waste”.
The North West Frontier Province has vehemently opposed Kalabagh dam through its provincial Assembly that has passed resolution four times rejecting Kalabagh dam.
The reason Frontier opposes Kalabagh Dam is that there is not a single direct advantage accruing to the province. It only gets pain. For example:
i. By constructing a dam on Indus at Kalabagh, the Attock gorge is expected to be made a reservoir that will store 7.9 MAF gross of water (6.1 MAF live). The dam wall will be 260 feet high from the river bed that will raise the water level of Indus throughout Attock gorge, right through Haro river confluence and up the Akohra on Kabul river. Nowshera, a city of 180,000 people falls on both the left and right banks of Kabul river and down town Nowshera city will stand 24 feet below the river dykes. In case the protective dykes break, Nowshera city will meet a painful death. In any case in about 50 years time Nowshera city and adjoining areas will become waterlogged swamplands.
ii. The reservoir will inundate about 35,000 acres of irrigated land (4,500 acres in NWFP and 31,500 acres in Punjab)
iii. 34,500 people will be displaced from immediate vicinity of the dam (another 48,500 In Punjab) and are proposed to be rehabilitated. But many more who are not displaced but are dependent upon the river or the grazing lands for their livelihood, like herdsmen and boatmen, will face economic hardship and consequential migration. The fate of about 3000 affected people of Tarbela Dam must have hardened NWFP govt.’s stand Displaced in 1970, about 100,000 people living in Terbela reservoir area were provided alternate land in Guddu Barrage command. For these affected people the drastic change in environ, inhospitable weather and the hostile local population was too much to cope with. Majority of them sold their lands and moved back turning into rootless paupers that had lost everything. But there are about 3,000 cases that have yet to be finalized even after 20 years of the commissioning of Tarbela Dam.
iv. 50 km Attock – Naushera Road will be submerged by Kalabagh reservoir and will have to be relocated and built. Six rail and road bridges will also need to be relocated and rebuilt, costing enormous amount of money, that surprisingly, has not been included in the expenditure of Kalabagh dam.
Mardan Salinity Control and Rehabilitation Project (SCARP) will be severly affected due to SCARP drainage level being lower than the upper of the KBD reservoir.
Article 161 (2) of the constitution of Pakistan, 1973, says that the province in which the hydroelectric project is situated will get “net profit” of the power generated. In the case of Kalabagh Dam, the reservoir area is situated in NWFP, whereas power station is located in Punjab. Therefore the profit of power generated will go to Punjab while NWFP will only get problems and pain.
The largest province of Pakistan, Balochistan (Area: 347,190 sq. Kms. Out of Pakistan’s 796,095 sq Kms) does not touch River Indus and isnot a riparian in the strictest sense. Still the Pat feeder from Guddu Barage with 3,400 cusecs irrigates about 300,000 acres in the province and a recent request of Balochistan to remodel Pat feeder will increase the flow to 6,000 cusecs irrigating a further 200,000 acres.
Balochistan’s opposition to KBD is therefore based on its apprehension that future requests for more water from Indus will meet little success if Kalabagh project over stretches demand if water in Indus River System.
OBJECTION OF SINDH TO KALABAGH DAM.
WESTERN RIVER INFLOW
(Figures in MAF)
Year Indus at kalabagh Jhelum at Mangla Chenab at Marala Total
1922-23 97.68 25.76 23.99 147.43
1923-24 110.04 22.23 21.04 154.01
1924-25 82.70 26.45 20.52 129.67
1925-26 77.75 20.74 20.22 118.71
1926-27 72.85 22.39 22.06 117.30
1927-28 69.74 20.69 20.41 110.84
1928-29 81.12 27.22 21.96 130.30
1929-30 76.67 23.58 23.90 124.15
1930-31 86.42 25.58 24.86 136.86
1931-32 78.06 25.30 20.4 123.40
1932-33 82.05 21.34 21.87 125.26
1933-34 91.84 26.18 26.42 144.44
1934-35 86.04 18.02 22.77 126.86
1935-36 87.43 25.80 25.86 139.09
1936-37 95.70 24.31 25.82 145.83
1937-38 87.53 21.03 22.88 131.44
1938-39 95.65 23.61 28.69 147.95
1939-40 100.05 22.09 22.64 144.78
1940-41 84.91 16.54 18.64 120.09
1941-42 91.29 19.77 22.61 133.67
1942-43 112.62 25.63 28.83 167.08
1943-44 95.36 23.26 28.37 146.99
1944-45 92.33 19.43 24.40 136.16
1945-46 105.10 20.67 24.71 150.48
1946-47 90.26 15.35 23.25 128.86
1947-48 78.32 17.82 28.53 124.67
1948-49 95.10 27.80 32.82 155.72
1949-50 101.10 24.73 27.16 152.99
1950-51 106.33 30.19 35.13 171.65
1951-52 71.92 20.57 21.31 113.80
1952-53 86.45 19.57 24.28 130.30
1953-54 93.96 22.68 26.82 143.06
1954-55 90.81 23.70 25.74 140.25
1955-56 84.27 19.31 28.94 132.52
1956-57 98.79 25.02 33.57 157.38
1957-58 85.86 32.74 32.49 151.09
1958-59 99.47 27.39 31.69 158.55
1959-60 120.09 31.65 35.05 186.79
1960-61 104.51 16.26 24.95 145.72
1961-62 93.84 17.79 28.87 140.50
1962-63 71.32 16.18 22.31 109.81
1963-64 89.36 22.01 23.69 135.06
1964-65 88.73 23.60 26.10 138.43
1965-66 89.74 26.60 22.63 138.97
1966-67 91.47 23.10 25.90 140.47
1967-68 96.98 23.90 25.30 146.18
1968-69 93.29 21.64 23.91 138.84
1969-70 87.50 24.22 22.55 134.27
1970-71 71.52 15.35 19.30 106.17
1971-72 71.74 15.35 18.85 104.14
1972-73 79.58 24.96 21.54 126.08
1973-74 106.69 26.43 30.96 164.08
1974-75 63.19 16.32 18.23 97.74
1975-76 81.29 25.38 32.84 139.51
1976-77 81.44 24.64 29.18 135.26
1977-78 81.23 19.63 26.59 127.45
1978-79 106.58 24.62 32.27 163.47
1979-80 86.99 20.72 24.29 132.00
1980-81 86.76 23.44 26.19 136.39
1981-82 89.94 22.59 28.09 140.62
1982-83 73.24 21.32 27.79 122.35
1983-84 93.91 26.22 29.82 149.95
1984-85 92.17 18.68 24.08 134.93
1985-86 75.83 17.64 24.23 117.70
1986-87 91.11 27.84 27.70 146.65
1987-88 88.03 27.83 25.21 141.07
1988-89 104.73 23.98 32.69 164.40
1989-90 81.20 24.71 25.42 131.33
1990-91 108.73 27.39 29.98 166.10
1991-92 112.18 31.11 28.80 172.09
1992-93 109.90 32.00 27.78 169.68
1993-94 81.77 22.71 23.00 127.48
1994-95 109.12 26.48 30.20 165.80
1995-96 98.91 28.08 31.87 158.86
1996-97 100.34 29.04 31.88 161.26
1997-98 83.08 24.01 28.08 135.17
1998-99 94.70 21.83 27.90 144.43
1999-00 87.15 14.44 22.95 124.54
2000-01 67.41 12.57 20.01 99.99
2001-02 64.98 11.96 19.04 95.98
2002-03 72.64 17.02 23.64 113.30
Avg:1922-2002 89.48 22.80 25.76 138.04
Avg:1976-2002 89.78 23.06 26.99 139.82
Maximum 1959-60 120.09 32.74 35.13 186.76
Minimum 2001-02 63.19 11.96 18.23 95.98
4 out of 5 years’ flow of 3 western rivers is ………………..………….. 124.54 MAF
Province Kharif Rabi Total
Panjab …… …… 37.07 18.87 55.94
Sindh* …… …… .33.94 14.82 48.76
NWFP …… …… 3.48 2.30 5.78
Baluchistan …… …… 2.85 1.02 3.87
Total …… …… 77.34 37.01 114.35
NWFP:ungauged civil …… …… + 1.80 + 1.20 + 3.00
Canals above rim station
Total …… …… 79.14 38.21 117.35
Includes already sanctioned urban and industrial uses for metropolitan Karachi.
2. The “Katcho” will die:
Passing through the middle of Sindh, travelling 600 miles (1000 km) north to south in a zigzagging course, Indus inundates a large area on both of its sides at an average 5 miles (8 km) wide. This area, known as “Katcho”, has turned into a very rich fertile land due to aeons of nutritional silt deposition and excellent drainage. The area of “Katcho” is about 1.9 million acres.
Over the ages, a thich riverine forest has grown on 598,880 acres (240,000 hectares) of katcho (according to Sindh Forest Department’s comprehensive Plan for Massive Afforestation in Sindh 1995-2025”) that boasts of innumerable varieties of trees and shrubs including the famous populous Euphratica (Bahan in Sindhi) which is extensively used for making the sindhi folk wood work, the exquisite color inlaid furniture, Jandi. A rich grazing lan of 1.3 million acres (0.52 million hectares) extends throughout the length of “katcho”. About 600,000 acres (240,000 hectares) of this fertile land is brought under plough to raise verious cash crops, lintels and oil bearing seeds.
The importance of “Katcho” for the economy of Sindh cannot be over emphasized. There has not been a direct survey of “Katcho” area separately but the human population of “Katcho” as well as that of cattle, buffaloes, goats/sheep and poultry is roughly estimated as follows:
Population Per Per Sq. Total Katcho
One-family Mile (3000 sq.miles)
People 8 32 100.000
Cattle 4 150 450.000
Buffaloes 4 150 450.000
Goats/Sheep 6 225 675.000
Poultry 20 750 2,250,000
The agricultural produce, milk, meat and poultry not only sustains about on million inhabitants of “Katcho” but is a source of food for those numerous cities of Sindh that fall on both sides of river Indus.
Another about 200,000 people are beneficiries of the timber trade of the 598,500 acre riverine forest. The firewood is a rich source of renewable energy for all villages and cities, where gas has not yet been supplied. Yet another about 300,000 people are directly dependent upon river Indus for their livelihood like fishermen and boatmen.
The “Katcho” depends entirely upon the inundation of Indus. Whenever the quantity of water flowing down the river is not sufficient to submerge the “Katcho”, the crops, food and fodder are all affected and even the wells for dirnking water run low.
The severe drought yea of 1985-86 is a case in point when “Katcho” was not inundated by Indus forcing many families to migrate to other areas for want of food and work.
Repeated years of drought or unnatural shortages caused by diversion or damming of the waters of River Indus will result in severe damage to the “Katcho” as follows:
i. It will lead to loss of surface moisture followed by soil degradation, salinity, wind erosion and consequent turning of the lans into a desert.
ii. The soil erosion causes decline of succesion of plants so that over a period of 50 drought years the whole natural forest belt will become extinct.
iii. One hundred thousand people depending upon “Katcho” for their sustenance will face social and economic ruin and conseqent migration.
iv. Another 200,000 people (including the family members of those attached to timber trade) will be adversely affected.
v. Sindh will pay an enormous cost in the shape of loss of dairy, meat & poultry products as well as livestock and poultry stock.
vi. Drought years cause drying up of wells and ponds in “Katcho” causing severe hardship for humans and animal alike.
3. Mangrove forests are not “wastelands”:
The mengrove forest in Indus delta is spread over 650,000 hectares) and is the sixth largest mangrove forest in the world. Fed through the nutrients carried by 400 million tons of silt by River Indus each year, (before the dams and barrages were constructed), the mangrove forest estuaries are the most procuctive forests, protecting and nurturing thousands of botanical, aquatic and wildlife species.
According to the International Union of conservation of Nature, (I.U.C.N 1991) “The mangroves are the principle components of the delta ecosystem, without them and the nutrients they recycle and the protection they provide, the other components of the ecosystem will not survive. Mangrove estuaries provide ideal nursery grounds for many commercial fish species specially prawns”.
The other wildlife species supported by mangroves is propoises, jackals, wild boars, reptiles, migratory fowl birds and 3 species of dolphins. If the mangrove habitat is destroyed, the continued existence in the Indus delta of all those will be threatened (IUCN, Korangi ecosystem project 1991).
IUCN estimates the mangrove estuaries (like those of Indus delta) as being 4 to 5 times more productive than tropical estuaries without mangroves.
Proper studies have not been mounted but perhaps it is fair to assume that compared to assume that compared to agricultural land, acre for acrs, the mangrove estuaries are roughly 3 times more productive in economic terms. Significant economic benefits of mangrove forest are:
i. It is a timber resource for buildings and fuel wood for the vast population living in coastal areas.
ii. It is fodder and grazing land for cattle, goats and especially camels. In the coastal areas of Sindh a fine breed of camels is raised for whom marshlands provide a rich grazing place.
iii. Fisheries within the delta area:
44 species of fish reside in deltaic area e.g.
Shades (Hilsa) (Palla)
Flat Fish (Sole
Sea Cat Fish (Subghara Khagga)
Silver Whiting (Bhambhor)
Black & White pomfret (Poplet)
Large Spanish Mackerel (Surmai)
Long Tail Tuna-6 (Dawan)
Marine Prawns (Jhinga)
iv. Fisheries using the delta as a nursery: Most species of fish, especially prawns, pass some part of their life in the mangrove estuaries. Pakistan earned Rs 2.25 billion from the export of 0.4 million tons of fish (1989 figures). Out of this 242,000 tons of fish worth more than 1.5 billion Rupees, is netted on the coasts of Sindh.
v. More than 84,620 fishermen are employed on about 2,730 trawlers and boats in the business of catching coastal fish (1989 figures). All of them in one way or the other owe their sustenance to the mangrove estuaries. (10 year’s Agriculture Statistics of Sindh 1980-81 to 1989-90, by Bureau of Statistics, Sindh).
vi. Coastal protection: Sindh coast remains protected from wave erosion due to the mangrove forest. Without the forest to break the force of waves the 200 miles (300 Km) long coast could easily fall back progressively, as presently beubg exoeruebced bt Bangladesh.
vii. Yet another advantage of the mangrove forest is the protection of existing ports, Karachi port and port Qasim, from siltation. The mangrove forests have a tendency to filter sand rom the sea water. If allowed to enter the sea ports, the sand could easily choke the ports necessitating costly dredging process.
It may be noted that development of natural forests or mangrove forests is an incremental process that takes 50 to 60 years for the trees to mature. When the soil is subjected to erosion and nutrient recycling becomes difficult due to shortage of fresh water, reforestation becomes much more time consuming and the forests start to die. This is what is now happening to the natural forests on both sides of River Indus and the mangrove estuaries in coastal areas of Sindh. WAPDA keeps insisting in its defence that more salt resistant verities of mangroves can, and should, be introduced a remedy will be prohibitively costly and its success not necessarily assured.
Reproduced below is the letter from an American, Mr. William.T.Orvosh, that appeared in letters to the Editor, Daily Dawn, July 13, 1996 which graphically sketches the thinking of the people of Sindh.
Mangroves and Dams (Letter Daily DAWN Karachi July 13, 1996)
The letter from Dr. Surayya Khatoon, “would they survive”, (DAWN, July 9) is a well informed and timely exposure of two important issues that are far more inter-electric development. The critical role played by mangrove forests in coastal ecology has only recently been realised. Not too long ago some influential, but uninformed “scholars” advocated the destruction of mangroves, contending that they represented a waste of “valuable” coastal lands; they did so without a single shred of scientific evidence supporting their position. On their advice, whole mangrove forests have been destroyed in the name of “development; the catastrophic result of this folly was felt almost immediately; drastic reduction in the survival of juvenile marine life (shrimp, and many fish, spend their juvenile and adolescent phases in the protection of mangrove forests), destructive erosion, loss of the bio-filtration function provided by the forests; and the realisation that the acid sulphate soils associated with mangrove habitats are not conducive to conversion to “agricultural” use, although the natural biological productivity of mangrove forests surpasses anything humans are likely to do on a per acre basis.
The US Army corps of Engineers, plan to bisect the State of florida with a canal was cancelled, after conclusive proof that the fresh water flows critical to mangrove health on the Florida coast would be disrupted, the entire Gulf of Mexico fishery would have been placed in jeopardy, as well as much of the life in the great Everglades swamp. At first, the corps Engineers, dismissed envirnmentalist’s complaints as unfounded, and alarmist. However, as the evidence mounted (hard, scientific evidence available to anyone), even the most vocal supporters of the canal were convinced that a horrific mistake was about to be made.
Before Pakistan makes the mistake of interrupting the flow of the Indus for any reason, or degrading the quality of water through uncontrolled pollution, it should consider the expensive lessons learned by others. Those who destroyed their mangroves in the name of “development” are now feverishly replanting them at tremendous cost. The consequences of mangrove destruction are immediate, and almost irreversible in the near-to-middle term. Natural mangrove development is an incremental process; new trees grow in the soil stabilished by their ancestors. When the soil has benn removed through erosion, and there areno mature trees to provide support, reforestation is time-consuming and expensive, as certain ill-informed people have come to realise, after destroying nature,s gift to them.
I am not anti-development unless it is being done without a consideration for nature; nor am I dictating energy and environmental policy to Pakistan. What I am doing is suggesting that you learn from the mistakes of others. We, in the United States, now realise what a large-scale hydro-electric dam really costs. Some of the most magnificent wonders of nature lie sub-merged behind out system of dams. The colorado River, which used to flow to the sea, has disappeared, wiping out Mexican fishing villages, and denying a substantial area of Northwest Mexico of its fair share of the colorado’s water. The United States will be making reparations to Mexico forever.
Vast dams, which evolve into very expensive waterfalls after they fill with silt, are now becoming unpopular, with smaller, with smaller, mini and micro-hydro projects offering lower cost, less destructive alternatives; small-scale hydro-electic works are booming in the United States. Displacement of people and the irreversible destruction of the land and forests associated with large-scale hydro electric development are costs that do not justify the return, especially if the interrupted and de-silted flow also interferes with the health of mangrove forests, as it surely would in Pakistan.
If the money spent on a single giant dam were spent on education, health, population control, and viable energy alternatives, the demand for dam’s electicity would cease to exist.
Swamps, bogs, tangled forests, jungles, insects and snakes are not romantic things. To the uninformed, and to people bent on “development”, they don’t seem very useful. However, before the “developers” are allowed to satisfy their impulses, they should remember who put these things here in the first place. In the light of current knowledge, only the ignorant or the arrogant would wilfully undertake projects resulting in the endangerment of the mangrove environment.
Ignorance and arrogance: two commodities whose marginal usefulness is vastly ouweighed by their great expense.
WILLIAM T.ORVOSH, Karachi.
The most thought provoking sentence in Mr.Orvosh’s letter is about “the hard scientific evidence avaiable to anyone”. This evidence could very easily be obtained by WAPDA and the officials of Punjab to compute whether Kalabagh or any other dams on River Indus is in the natinal interest. But unfortunately, rather than search for evidence, WAPDA and the representative of Punjab deliberately destroyed the chances of undertaking a World Bank funded study to determine just that.
4. The greatest threat from Kalabagh dam is salinity:
By far the most serious disadvantage of Kalabagh dam is the salinity the dam will induce from the exposed salt range of Pothwar Plateau.
To comprehend this enormous but least talked about disadvantage, the geophysical and geological environment of Kalabagh as well as the mechanics of surface water salinity will need to be understood.
i. Geographical and geological environment of kalabagh:
According to Mr.Saeed.Arashed in his excellent treatise, “kalabagh Dam project a Scientific Analyeses”, the dam site is located at the southern terrace of Pothwar Plateau while the surface lake extends northward. About 2000 meters below the plateau there is a huge layer of Rock Salt (600 to 2000 meters thich) which was perhaps the bedof an ocean as deep as the Pacific about 570-230 million years ago. The geological changes brought about by nature over the history of the world saw the ocean disappear and the layer of salt being topped by other geological formations. These formations between the pre-Cambrian ocean flor and the present day floor of the proposed Kalabagh reservoir can be divided by 10 strats.
Stratum 0. This is taken as the floor of the dam.
Stratum 1. The stratum is 0 to 600 meters thich laid about 10,000 years back or later, mainly since the Second Ice Age. It consists of coarse stones, conglomerates, sandstone and some clays.
Stratum 2. This stratum consists of clays, sandstone, coal and limestone. In age they range from 6 to 65 million years. Thickness varies from 200 to 600 meters.
Stratum 3. The beds were laid 65 to 135 million years ago. The thickness is about 180 meters. The stratum consists of sandstone and argillites of detrital origin.
Stratum 4. The rocks in this stratum were formed between 135 to 195 million years back. These are limestone and dolomites about 200 meters in thickness.
Stratum 5. The stratum is significant from viewpoint of pertoleum geology. The beds are 250 to 300 meters in thickness and consist of lime stones and marls rich in fauna. These were laid back about 195 ti 250 million uears back.
Stratum 6. The stratum laid between 250 to 300 million uears back consists of argillites and sandstone varying in thickness from 20 to 200 meters.
Stratum 7. This consists of glacial conglomerates about 200 meters thick laid around 300 to 400 million years back.
Stratum 8. The beds in this stratum are argillites, limestone and sandstone, 200 to 600 meters thick, laid between 400 to 500 million years back.
Stratum 9. The next lower stratum is the formation, 600 to 2000 meters thich of rock salt 500 to 5000 million uears ago on the floor of an ocean which could have been as deep as the Pacific today.
Stratum 10. The lowest stratum corresponding to the ocean flor, is the Pre-Cambrian basement, more than 5000 million years old.
The harmless geological formation of Pothwar Plateau became complicated due to the folding of salt strate into the shape of a bowl. About 210 million years ago movem ent of tectonic plates forced the salt formation to fold over into the shape of a bowl so that the northern edge of the bowl appeared close to the Kalachistta Range north of Kalabagh dam reservoir while the southern rim appeared in the form of the famous Salt Range, south of Kalabagh dam site. River Indus bifurcates the southern rim so that kohat Range falls on the west and Khewra Range on the east. Murree hills is thought to have come into being due to the lifting up of the pre-Cambrian ocean floor in the same tectonic plate movement.
The layer of salt rock sitting 2000 meters under the Kalabagh dam site is perhaps of no consequence as the vertical permeability of water is not likely to reach that level. However there are salt deponsits and alkali brines at low to medium depth especially near the rim of the bowl. The brines tend to be at high pressure and free flowing. Under the tremendous load of the dam structure and tons of stored water, the salt solution are likely to rise in vast sheets to mix with the water of the reservoir.
ii Surface water salinity:
Surface salinith can be described as deposites of carbonates, chlorides or sulphates of sodium, calcium and magnesium on the top eight inches of the soil.
Without going into the complexities of the subject it can be explained that waters of the Indus River System carry a variety of such salts that are left on the surface of irrigated lands along with silt while irrigastion water filters down or evaporates. When the contents of salt deposits increase to about 2.5% the productivity of the land is visibly impaired and when it reaches a level of 7.0% on biological life is possible.
Salts can also be deposited when brackish or saltish sub soil water reaches the critical level of 0-5 feet and then, through capillary action, rises up to mix with the top soil.
Nazir Ahmed, in his commendable work “Ground Water Resources of Pakistan”
Indus Water Salinity
Observation Salinity gms/tonne Difference
Ghaziabad 138 ……….
Attock 164 26
Kalabagh 216 52
D.I.Khan 226 10
D.G.Khan 242 16
Chechran 260 18
It should be noted that the quantum of salinity between Attock and Kalabagh (52 gms/tonne) us 100% more than between any other 2 points observed. The billion tone of stored water of Kalabagh dam is likely to exert tremendous pressure on alkali brine strata which will then rise in vast sheets to mix with the water of the reservoir increasing its saline content to unacceptable limits.
Nazir Ahmed has further given a very tought provoking example of salinity by Indus River water.
Quote “Suppose 2.0 inches of soil crust was formed in a 100 years or every year a deposit of 0.02 inches took place. The existing sediment content of river water during flood is 0.2% so that to deposit 0.02 inch of soil, sediment water of 10 inches depth on a unit area is needed. If the water contains 200 particles per million (PPM) of salts, then in one year on square foot of land will have 0.0104 lb. of salts.
The calculation being:
10x1.0x (6.25/1,000,000)x 200 = 0.0104 lb
In one hundred years, building up of 2.0 inches of soil on one square foot will have about 14 lb. of soil, assuming 87 lb. to a cubic foot, and 0.0104x100=1.04 lb. of salts. The soils will thus have 7.2% salts on which no biological life is possible.” Unquote.
Saeed.A.Rashid in his most informative book “Kalabagh Dam Project, A Scientific Analysis” has stated the problem in an alternate form.
He states that if 10 inches of water that carry 200 PPM of dissolved salts leave behind 4.72 gms of solids per cubic foot and if 10 inches of water carrying 200 PPM of solids is given to a piece of land and is allowed to soak and to evaporate in the same pattern as is practised in our canal irrigated agriculture, then 4.72 grams of salt will be deposited in each cubic foot of soil.
Given the salinity of water of River Indus at D.I.Khan at 226 PPM, for every 3 soaking per year, or 30 inches of water, about 16 gram of salt will be added to each cubic foot. In 30 years about 2.54% salts will be added to the top 8 inches of soil making the damage to crop field perceptible.
Mr. Saeed advances the interesting theory that perhaps that is the reason why the crop yield has started declining in the comman areas of the canal system below D.I.Khan, 30 years after the commissioning of the barrage system when maximum coverage is achieved.
Normally salt deposits are removed from the surface by leeching or extensive watering which is expected to dissolve the salts and filter them underground. But in this case more canal water will mean more salts added resulting in accelerated damage to crop yield.
These abservation, if correct, indicate a very grave threat of destructive salinity to all agricultural lands below kalabagh site if a dam were to be built. Wisdom therefore demands that all parameters in calculation above be verified and if found correct, construction of a dam at kalabagh shuld be given up as a most detrimental step against the agriculture of all of Sindh and most all of the siraiki belt.
This should further be seen In the backdrop of an estimated 24 million acres (9.6 million hectares) of irrigated land out of a total of 34.5 million acres (14 million hectares) of irrigated land in Pakistan, already bearing higher salt content than desired.
5. Pollution of the Water Resource:
Indus River System is the main source of irrigation and drinking water for most of the 130 million people of Pakistan. Degradation in the quality of water resourced not only ffects the crop yield of agriculture but also has a direct bearing on the health of the people, especially those of the lower Indus Plain, Sindh.
i. Irrigation returns carring surface salts and pesticides. It is relevant here to mention that Pakistan uses about 25,000 tons of organic phosphorous and organo-chlorine pesticides annually. These pesticides being non biodegradable, a large portion of harmful poisons wash into Indus River System.
ii Human and industrial effluent from about 40 cities and hundreds of villages situated on the bank of Indus River adds to the pollution of river water enormously. With increase in population and industrial activity and with non existent sewage water treatment facilities, the approximately 20 million people living in the major cities on River Indus like Chashma, D.I.Khan, Taunsa, D.G.Khan Guddu, Sukkur, Rohri, Hyderabad, kotri and hundreds of villages, cause pollution of water resources of the Indus River System to hygienically unacceptable limits.
The decreasing flow in Indus and the warm and dry weather of lower Indus plain further concentrates the pollutants of Indus River.
No proper research has been carried out on the quantum as well as effects of pollution of Indus River waters but the rising trend in renal, colic and intestinal diseases in Sindh indicates a nexus between polluted dirnking water and the diseases that must be measured in terms of human misery and economic cost to the population.
6. Natural Lakes – Bird Sanctuaries:
Over the million of years that the Indus River has flowed through Sindh, it has changed its course a number of times. The 400 million tons of silt carried by the river per year progressively settles at the bottom of the river raising its level so that at a critical point it changes its path to one lower than before. In the recorded history, Indus River has changed its course 7 times, Moen-jo-daro in Larkana distict and Bhambore in Thatta are two of the many large and prosperous cities once on the bank of Indus, that lost their economic clout and died a slow death.
The changing course of Indus has left thousans of small and large depressions that become natural lakes when filled with water. Sindh is therefore home to some of Asia’s largest natural lakes like Manchar in distict Dadu, keenjhar, Heleji & Hedero in Thatta, Chotiari in Sanghar & innumerable smaller lakes spread all over the province.
Manchar is an inundation lake that fills up during flod season. It is a 50 sq. miles (150 square k m) lake that stores more than 0.5 MAF of water. Keenjhar in Thatta is approximately 40 sq. miles (120 square km). It is the major source of dringking water and a favourite picnic spot for karachiites. Chotiari in Sanghar is another inundation lake that can store 0.4 MAF water and is being prepared to play a major role in irrigation of the area.
There is growing awareness among people to commercially raise fish in smaller lakes of distict Badin and Thatta and as far as Larkana and Jacobabad up north. With increase in population and corresponding decrease in production of meat, fish has a potential of becoming a major sourece of protein in the coming years.
The most interesting aspect of the inundation lakes in Sindh, however is that these lakes are winter and summer home to thusands of migratory birds from kazekhistan and Siberia who fly thousands of miles using a coreidor known as “Indus Flyway” to miraculously navigate into southern Sindh. The majestic and awe inspiring phenomenon of self preservation is recognized as a marvel of nature by all nature lovers the world over who descend in droves to Keenjhar, Heleji, Hadero and Chotiari so as to see and watch nature closely.
So far bird watchers have reported 222 types of birds inhabit the lakes. The wildlife department of Sindh has printed a brochure “Haleji Lake” enumerating all the species and have declared the lakes as wildlife santuary.
(List of birds Appendis-9)
7. Salt Water Intrusion:
70 percent of annual water flow of river Indus takes place from June to Septermber when snow melts in the Himalayas and korakoram Rango combines with monsoon season. The remaining 30 percent flow is spread over the 8 months period from October to May.
The flow of water in Indus effectively checks salt water intrusion from the Arabian ocean into lower flod plains of Indus. Thus as the storage and consumption of water has continued in the northern plains, sea water has started flowing up in to Indus and its estuaries.
With the reverse flow of salt water into the southern part of Sindh, the sweet water aquifer gets contaminterd, adding to salinity of irrigated lands.
In summer, the tidal and monsoonal vector from the Arabian Sea is SW to NE. In this period salt water intrusion is experienced up to Thatta 75 km upstream of Arabian Sea. Chloride levels at Thatta and Gharo get very high and are a cause of agricultural loss to the area.
In Winter the vector reverses to NE-SW direction so that salt water intrusion recedes and ground water aquifer recharges with fresh water.
This is evident From WAPDA Annual Report (1988-89) page 24, where in, the Provincial depth of the water table of Indus Plains is given. The post monsoon table (Oct-87) for Sindh indicates 77% area having a water table within 0-10 feet of the ground level and the pre-monsoon wate table (April-May 1988) indicates 79% of the area to be within 0-10 feet, showing thereby that 2% more land in Sindh gets a raised water table due to sea water intrusion into ground water aquifer when the flow in Indus is at its lowest level. Needless to say that the excess 2% waterlogged land in pre-monsoon season pertains all to district Thatta and Badin in the south of Sindh.
A symposium conducted by Pakistan National Institute of Oceanography and National Science Foundation in Oct 1982 in karachi established that salt water intrusion into the plains of lower Sindh is directly related to the decrease of flow in River Indus.
The climatic change that the world is experiencing and the raise in temperature by 1.5 degrees celsius that is being pedicted by the year 2025 will also raise the sea water level by 1.5 meters (5 feet) (World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Report, 1989).
Until adequate water is released to Indus downstream of Kotri, sea water intrusion combined with raised level of the Arabian Sea will make Thatta, Badin and southern parts of Hyderabad Distict waterlogged marshlands.
8. The Exorbitant cost:
According to PC-II, stage III of kalabagh Dam Project:-
“The total project cost covering civil and power facilities as estimated by the consultants at June 1987 prices will be about Us $ 5.153 billion including interest during construction, customs duties and taxes and price contingencies”. This enormous amount does not include the reconstruction of 50 km road linking Atoock with Naushera and the 6 rail and road bridges that will all be submerged by kalabagh Dam reservoir.
The price escalation since 1987 and deprectiation of Pakistani currency against the mighty US Dollar must have further escalated the cost of kalabagh Dam. Updated estimates have not been made public but it is a safe bet to suggest that construction of kalabagh will cost anywhere between $ 8-10 billion, or more than 25% our present external debt.
When the economy of the country is reeling under external and internal debt of more than Rs 2 Trillion, when each working Pakistani is under debt to the tune of Rs 60,000 when the balance of payment is more than $ 3 billion in the red annually, when Prim Minister of Pakistan has been appealing to the general public to donate freely to reduce the national debt and when the country is faced with serious threat of defaulting on its foreign loans, prudence demands that investing in a $ 10 billion project must be thought many times over before the whole country and all its people are committed. $ 10 billion or Rs. 450 billion approximately, is about one and a half time the Pakistani budget. This amount could go a long way in correcting the many kinks in the agriculture and irrigation of Pakistan saving much more water and producing much more grain than promised by KBD.
9. Acre for acre Sindh gets less water than Punjab:
Federal Minister Syeda Abida Sultana recently remarked that “Sindh was drowining while Punjab was short of water”.
As far back as in 1972, Chaudri Anwar Samma, Punjab Minister for Revenue, Irrigation & Power wrote in a letter to the Government of Sindh and Government of Pakistan that “the depth of the water per acre area of irrigated land was 2.7 ft in Punjab and 4.3 ft in Sindh”.
Both these declaration just about explain the mindset of the officials of Punjab and WAPDA about the comparative water availability in the two provinces. Facts are however a little different.
Total cultivable area in Pakistan is 86 million acres out of which cultivable area in canal command is 34.5 million acres. Of this also, only 28.67 million acres is actually under plough, according to following table:
Province Total cultivable Area (M.Acre) Canal Command Area (M.Acre) Actual Canal Irrigated Area (Million Acres
Panjab 36.40 (42%) 19.5 (56%) 16.41 (57%)
Sindh 24.50 (31%) 12.2 (36%) 10.00 (34.9%)
NWFP 7.60 (9%) 1.8 (5%) 1.32 (4.6%)
Baluchistan 15.50 (18%) 1.0 (3%) 0.94 (3.2%)
86.0 (100%) 34.50 (100%) 28.67 (100%)
Source: Report of Natinal Commission on Agriculture (1988).
ii. The Indus Water Accord of 1991 has sanctioned waters to the provinces of Sindh and Punjab as under.
Province Kharif Rabi Total
Panjab …… …… 37.04 18.87 55.94
Sindh …… …… 33.94 14.82 48.76
iii. Most of the subsoil water in Panjab is sweet. The percolation from the river and canal beds that seeps underground charges the sweet aquifer to the tune of 40 to 50 MAF every year. Rightly concerned that this charging of aquifer will raise the water table and will cause widespread water logging, WAPDA installed about 15,000 public sector tube wells, especially in th Chhaj and Rechna Doabs, to maintain a safe water table. Combined with another 350,000 tube wells in the private sector spread all over Punjab the total output of subsoil water for irrigation purpose is above 40 MAF per year. This quantum of 40 MAF must be included in the water availability table, especially because WAPDA’s exercise of installing and operating the tube wells since 1960 has cost billions of rupees that was paid for by all the 4 provinces, through the Government of the Federation.
As against the blessing of the aquifer of rechargeable sweet water in Pnjab, Sindh is literally sitting on sea water Except for a very narrow strip of land in rohri canal command area, most of underground water in Sindh is as saltish as the water of the Arabian Sea. Seepage of canal water into the aquifer causes immense harm by coupling salinity with the menace of water logging.
iv Punjab receives substantial rain in summer and winter as against less than 5 inches of rain per year on the parched lands of Sindh. The rains in the winter of Punjab amount to about 1.2 MAF and that of summer to more than 8 MAF. For irrigation purposes, the finely spread rain is many times superior to canal supplied water as it does not have the element of field losses experienced through canal irrigation.
Tabulation of water availability for irrigation in the Canal Command Area (CCA) in Sindh and Punjab should therefore read:
Seasonal Water Availability per Acre of CCA in Punjab and Sindh (Kharif)
1 CCA in Million Acres 20.13 12.75
2 1991 Water Accord Allocation (MAF) 37.07 33.94
3 Usable Ground Water at Water Course 13.27 0.24
4 Equivalent at Canal Head (MAF) 17.65 0.32
5 Rainfall Contribution Field (MAF) 7.94 0.58
6 Equivalent at Canal Head (MAF) 19.21 1.40
7 Total Water Supply at Canal Head (MAF)(2+4+6) 73.93 35.66
8 Water Availability in feet, per Acre of CCA (7-1) 3.67 2.80
1 CCA in Million Acres 12.22 7.88
2 1991 Water Accord Allocation 18.87 14.82
3 Usable Ground Water at Water Course (MAF) 10.85 0.19
4 Converted at Canal Head (MAF) 14.43 0.25
5 Rainfall Contribution (MAF) 1.21
6 Equivalent at Canal Head (MAF) 2.93
7 Total Water Supply at Canal Head (2+4-6) 36.23 15.07
8 Water Supply in feet, per acre of CCA (7-1 2.96 1.91
(It should be noted that Canal Command Area (CCA) of Punjab and Sindh, as calculated by Sindh government and appearing in the table above, is not much different than CCA estimated by National Commission on Agriculture 1988, appearing in previous pages, in that, for Punjab it is 20.13 against 19.5 Million Acres and for Sindh it is 12.75 against 12.2 Million Acres. However usable ground water pumped out in Punjab and estimated by Sindh government in 1983 is 13.77 MAF while today, in 1997, some 350,000 tube well draw as much as 40 MAF from subsoil resources, this will increase crop delta of Punjab (water per acre of CCA) by a sizeable one acre foot).
These calculation can be checked for accuracy to determine which province is getting what share of water between Sindh & Punjab Meanwhile the only point to remembr is that for irrigation & drinking water needs River Indus is the single source of water available to Sindh as against Punjab that has 23 MAF water of Jehlum, 23 MAF water of Chenab, 40 MAF of subsoil water per year, more than 9 MAF of rain water and off and on water from the 3 eastern rivers.
Syeda Abida is nor right when she says that Sindh is drowing unless she means that Sindh is drowining in water logging and salinity. She is also not right about Punjab being starved of water since the crop delta of Punjab gets far more water than Sindh.
SINDH DOES NOT TRUST PUNJAB OR WAPDA.
The biggest single factor of Sind’s opposition to Kalabagh Dam is the mistrust and suspicion with which Sindh views all efforts of Punjab and WAPDA to tap the waters of Indus.
Perhaps such suspicions rise from the deeper apprehensions of the people of Sindh that Punjab wishes to politically and economically subjugate their homeland. Hence the efforts to control the vital supplies of water.
The people of Sindh may not be correct in ascribing ulterior motives to Punjab in what may rightly be described as a very serious case of national survival, but both Punjab and WAPDA (which always speaks the same language) have done nothing to allay the doubts and apprehensions of Sindh. By Dismissing offhand the alternate dam sites and other water management strategies as advanced by Sindh Governemnt, and by insisting upon none-other-than-Kalabagh-dam approach, Punjab and Wapda have provoked more mistrust and given birth to bigger doubts in the minds of the people of Sindh. Many examples have been quoted that have caused this deep mistrust :-
1. No tapping of water was ever indicated
Initially the KBD was reported to be a storage reservoir only. But after the oil crises of 1973, hydel0power generation was added as the second function of KBD. The PC-II (update Feb 1989) says:
Quote, “The oil crises of 1973 and the steep rise in the price of imported oil has had a most significant impact on implementing the KDB project and on its primary role, the priority shifting from irrigation supplies to its hydro-power generation capability” unquote.
WAPDA AN INEFFICIENT AND WASTEFUL BEHEMOTH
The initiator and executor of kalabagh Dam project is WAPDA, the Water and Power Development Authority.
Created under an Act of Parliament, Pakistan Water and Power Development Authority ACT 1958 (Pakistan Act No.XXXI of 1958) and modelled after the Tennessee Valley Authority (T.V.A) WAPDA is a behemoth employing more than 160,000 people and has an annual budget running into billions.
Since 1958, the year of its creation, WAPDA has been entrusted with all the water and power development projects in Pakistan. As enunciated in Chapter III of the Act, the powers and Duties of the Authority, Are:
i. Irrigation, water supply and draiage; and recreational use of water resources;
ii. The generation, transmission and distribution of power; and the maintenance and operation of power houses and grids;
iii. Flood control
iv. The prevention of water logging and reclamation of water logged and salted lands.
v. Inland navigation; and
vi. The prevention of any ill-effects on public health resulting from the operation of the authority. Unfortunately the working of WAPDA towards the management of water resources and electric power generation leaves much to be desired. The glaze of mega projects like Tarbela Dam and Ghazi Barotha hydel projects and the self congratulatory media hype has kept hidden from public knowledge the serious drawbacks of planning and execution, the cost over runs, the extremely adverse cost benefit ratio and the much reduced life expectancy of WAPDA’s projects.
The project documents of kalabagh Dam are a glaring example of WAPDA’s inability of learning from its mistakes. Despite ver’ serious problems experienced in Tarbela and Mangla Dams, the documents of KBD again fail to address important technical, social, economic and environmental issues. What will happen 10 or 20 years after kalabagh Dam is constructed when Attock valley gorge starts filling with the heavy sedimentation carried by Rivers Indus, Soan and Kabul like Tarbela now? Will flash floods then overflow the banks of kalabagh Dam Reservoir and inundate Mardan and Swabi vales.
The proposed kalabagh Dam site is situated in an area known to have fault lines and fractures. The LANDSAT and SPOT satellite imagery of the kalabagh Dam site indicates a right lateral fault known as kalabagh Fault and aother known as Kharjawan Fault cutting the kalabagh Dam site NESW between Indus and kharjawan Nala on the right bank.
So far very little is known about movement of earth plates and the causes and intensity of earthquakes that the movement and collision of earth plates cause. Still lesser is known about the effects, billion tons of stored water will have on a suspect foundation.
The general public in Pakistan is not properly informed that the tectonic plates known as IndoPak plate and the Asian Plate (Tibetan Plateau) are both greatly compressed and tectonically active. Fewer still know that the compression and collision of moving earth plates cause mountains to rise and that Himalayan and karakoram Mountains continue to rise by a few millimetres each year due to the same compression. Such a phenomenon is bound to create instability in the area to a substantial degree. The people of Pakistan must be informed that large dams induce earthquakes as the world has found out through experience, and that there are serious chances of a mishap to the dam structure because of the not yet fully understood effects of the tectonic activity and the dam induced earthquakes.
WAPDA’s defective planning and execution of projects and its glossing over of its serious mistakes when the projects are commissioned, can be gauged from the history of the Tarbela Dam.
Commissioned in 1974, delayed by 3 years and finally costing the nation $ one billion which was 25% of our total natinal debt at the time, the Tarbela project was heralded as a revolution in water resources development in Pakistan.
But from the very beginning Tarbela dam had design and engineering problems so glaring that WAPDA could easily be acused of culpable negligence and gross inefficiency.
All rivers carry varying degrees of silt and sedimentation. If not taken care of, dams on most rivers will turn into silt tanks in a very short time.
Sanmenxia dam on Yellow River, in Cahina, was completed in 1960 and decommissioned four years later in 1964 because of much more than estimated deposition of silt. After remodelling of the dam at great cost, Sanmaxia dam has been re-commissioned again.
The Nizamsagar dam in India was estimated to silt by about 570 acre feet per year but started silting up 16 times more at about 8,700 acre feet per year.
River Indus carries a very heavy load of sedimentation, conservatively estimated at 250 million tons per year, out of the total sedimentation load of about 400 million tons carried by the Indus River System annually. This is known to every singl official of irrigation department in any of the provinces, and perhaps every one with common sense.
The defective planning of WAPDA can be gauged from the fact that the original planning documents of Tarbela dam did not include adequate provision of removing the silt deposition, so that only 30 years after commissioning of the dam a huge mountain of silt, 150 feet high, has risen behind the dam, threatening its structure and reducing the reservoir capacity by about 0.3 MAF each year.
The American engineers have been able to control the degree of silt formation in the reservoir of Hoover dam, which was commissioned in 1932, increasing the life of the dam to about a 1000 years. So have the Chinese, with their Sanmexia dam. WAPDA, not having learnt anything from the experience of other nations in the period of Tarbela planning, have only recently started thinking seriously about de-silting Tarbela. Strangely, however, the same company, TAMS, has been awarded the fresh contract of finding the solution which it failed, so glaringly, to propose in the first place.
Another failure of WAPDA was the improper location by the dam site. The structure and formation, of the Tarbela dam site was either not investigated properly or its shortcomings glossed over so that, very soon, the 500 feet (150 meter) deep reservoir water, under tremendous pressure, dissolved the conglomerated rock underneath to create vertical sink holes. Left unttended these sink holes could lead to underground cavities and springs and could easily engulf the dam structure. Literally washing it away lock, stock and barrel.
Four hundred and forty sink holes developed in Tarbela reservoir and around the dam strcture in 1975, the year of the dam’s commissioning.
A panic stricken WAPDA resorted to filling the sink holes with special type of clay on an emergency basis. However the dissolution of an unstable lower stratum is a seathering process that continued to increase and so did the number of sink holes each passing year. In 85-86, 507 sink holes were filled with clay by a fleet of botom dump barges that were now permanently stationed in the reservoir. (WAPDA Report 1985-86).
The chronic structural, geo-tectonic, seismic and other problems of Tarbela has made the dam one of the most monitored dams in the world, requiring a wide range of sophisticated and expensive electonic equipment. It cost WAPDA Rs 714 million to maintain only the water component of arbela Dam each year!
The latest position is that Tarbela dam cannot be operated at the optimum design storage and power generation simultaneously. If optimum power generation is kept in view then water releases for irrigation is considerably reduced and if irrigation water is given priority, power generation equipment gets damaged. The Ministry of Water and Power has hirected WAPDA not to operate Tarbela Dam below 1350 feet ASL (above sea level) water level at the lake. The dead storage level of Tarbela being 1300 feet ASL, it means that 50 feet of water in Tarbela will not be used for irrigation purpose because when operated at lower level, huge quantities of silt washes down the tunnel into power turbines, not only damaging the turbine blades and eroding the tunne! Walls but also allowing the sedimentation mountain to creep nearer the dam structure threatening the very dam itself. Already tunnel#3 and 4 have 6 feet of sedimentation settled at the necks and now foreign consultants are being engaged to find the solution to yet another problem. (DAWN, June 20th, 1997).
WAPDA’s engineering capabilities are extremely limited and even its operational capabilities are questionable.
When one of the Sukkur Barrage (built 1932) gates collapsed, in December 1982, WAPDA was unable to repair the gate and 56 gates were ordered to be replaced by a British firm at a cost of $ 30 million.
In June 1993 Mangla Dam was allowed to be filled to the brim despite the fact that torrential rains in the catchment area forewarned of massive water inflows. The simple operation of maintaining a balance between incoming and released water in the reservoir was beyong WAPDA, so that the critical stage was reached suddenly and all the gates of the reservoir had to be opened to save the dam structure. The result was a horrendous loss of hundreds of lives and livestock and property worth billion. The intersting point is that not a single head rolled. Nobody was held responsible.
The inefficiency of the corruption ridden WAPDA can further be gauged from the simple peration of its power wing. The cost of electric power generation by WAPDA has become so exorbitant that industrial consumers have to pay more than Rs 4 per kilo watt hour (10 US cents). It has now become cheaper for industries to operate their own power generating units than to seek the bulk producer’s help.
One look at a customer’s electric bill will immediately show why there is so much antipathy for WAPDA all over the country especially among those affiliated with the industry.
It is a matter of common sense that a bulk producer will (and shuld) appreciate a bulk consumer, since the bulk consumer pays a concentrated amount for the service obtained. Therefore a bulk consumer isfavoured by concession in prices. All over the world this sensible approach holds. Only in Pakistan, under an inefficient organization like WAPDA, the more a person uses electic power, the more he has to pay on an escalating scale. It is as if a vendor cries out not to buy what he is selling!! There are “fuel adjustment charges”, “surcharges” and “additional surcharges” that add 75% to a cost of 25%.
According to a report WAPDA suffers generation losses to the to the tune of 23.5% on annual average and another 20% on billed revenue annually 1% of generating losses amount to Rs 1.2 billion per year and the 20% of billed revenue comes to about Rs. 2 billion (The Daily “DAWN” 17th may,1997). This makes a total loss of a whopping Rs 30 billion annually!! On more efficient systems the generation and line losses are less than 10%.
The people of Pakistan are unhappy with WAPDA and rightly suspicious of all plans and projects advanced by the Authority. Too many questions beg an answer. Too many clouded issues need clearance.
Why was re-designing and de-silting of Tarbela dam not actively considered before the problem of the dam turning into a silt tank, or the damage to the dam structure, became a matter only …ears away? Why was a storage dam upstream of Tarbele not considered seriously and accorded priority, since even a layman can understand that any dam spstream will not only increase the life of Tarbela by trapping the silt in Indus, but will also increase it power generation capability? Is it because the proponents of kalabagh so badly wanted this particular dam (since water could be siphoned off only from here and not from any dam upstream) that they would go to any length to make kalabagh dam seem unavoidable?
While Pakistan is fortunate to have about 123 MAF water most of the years and 86 million acres cultivable area, 50 million acres of this cultivable land has no water abailable. Of the 34.5 million canal commanded area, that does get irrigation water, more than 30% is threatened by water logging due to excess watering. This indicates serious mismanagement of water resources. Why has the Authority shown interest only in development of water resources (meaning construction of largj dams) rather than properly managing water resourcers?
On the Electric Power Generation front also WAPDA has proved extremely inefficient. While there is potential of 30,000 MW cheap hydel power available in the country, Pakistan is so short of the energy that till the costly power plants were hurriedly inducted into operation in the private sector, there was constant load shedding in the country causing billions of rupees in lost industrial activity.
Whth all above questions unanswered and many more besides; with WAPDA’s track record of ill planning and defective execution; with the tales of its corruption and inefficiency; and with its known bias for one province against the interests of others, it will be a miracle if people of Sindh will trust WAPDA with a $10 billion project like kalabagh dam which has all the hallmarks of an ill plaanned disaster for Sindh and none of the advantages being bandies about and for which the province of Sindh, along with the whole nation, will have to pay for ages.