Pakistan Farmers Alliance (PFA), a forum of nine organisations representing growers and the agricultural sector has urged farmers to vote only for those who support the Kalabagh Dam construction. ‘The consensus is already there in the Water Accord 1991 hence no new consensus is required,’ said PFA convener Dr Tariq Bucha, Chaudhry Hamid Malhi, Sarfraz Khan, Sidique Rehmat and Rabia Sultan while speaking at a press conference here on Tuesday.
They were of the view that the Bhasha Dam’s completion was not possible in the next 20 years whatever the government or its representatives’ claimed. They demanded that all the political parties should clarify their positions on the Kala Bagh Dam, which would not only add to water availability but would also provide cheaper Hydel electricity.
Dr Tariq Bucha and others were of the view that the Kala Bagh Dam was not a political issue but a question of economic decision making. There had never been any objection to its technical viability. It would repay its cost in three to five years. The parliamentary committee on water resources had reposed confidence in the findings of the technical committee on water resources, whose seven out of eight members had supported the construction of Kala Bagh Dam.
They applauded the recent decision of the Lahore High Court and expected that the government of Pakistan would implement the decision, as India had built the controversial Sardar Sarowar Dam on Narmada river according to the instructions of the Indian court. They said that the decision of the Lahore High Court had also brought to light decisions of the Council of Common Interests (CCI) favouring construction of Kalabagh Dam. They demanded that those who kept the decisions away from the eyes of public for such a long time be brought to book.
Kalabagh Dam is compulsory as it the basis of the Indus Water Treaty of 1990. The replacement component of the rivers Beas, Sutlej and Ravi can only be transferred to the affected areas of Punjab if dams are continuously constructed on the Indus River. Dams start silting up and loosing capacity from the day they become operative. Today Tarbela has lost 35 per cent of its capacity after 45 years; they said and added this falling capacity necessitates building of new dams to ensure the replacement component to Punjab. ‘If lost capacity is not replenished how can the replacement component be ensured to the deprived areas of Punjab,’ they questioned.
They said that Punjab’s and Pakistan’s growing population and rising needs of raw material for the industry require surplus agriculture production. The weak economy cannot afford the luxury of not building the Kalabagh Dam. Punjab produces 80 per cent of the country’s agriculture and gets 47 per cent share in water under the Water Accord of 1991 as compared to Sindh, which produces less than 20 per cent but gets 42 per cent water share, why was there this injustice, they asked.