Kalabagh Dam

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Kalabagh Dam
کالا باغ ڈيم
Kalabagh Dam is located in Pakistan
Kalabagh Dam
Location of Kalabagh Dam
کالا باغ ڈيم
Country Pakistan
Location Kalabagh, Mianwali District
Coordinates 32°57′23″N 071°36′49″E / 32.95639°N 71.61361°E / 32.95639; 71.61361Coordinates: 32°57′23″N 071°36′49″E / 32.95639°N 71.61361°E / 32.95639; 71.61361
Status Proposed
Dam and spillways
Type of dam Earthfill dam (zoned fill embankment with clay core)
Impounds Indus River
Height 79 m (259 ft)
Length 3,350 m (10,991 ft)
Active capacity 7.52 km3 (6,100,000 acre·ft)
Inactive capacity 9.7 km3 (7,900,000 acre·ft)
Catchment area 110,500 sq mi (286,000 km2)
Power station
Hydraulic head 170 ft (52 m)
Turbines 12 x 300 MW
Installed capacity 3,600 MW (max. planned)
Annual generation 11,400 GWh

The Kalabagh Dam (Urdu: کالا باغ ڈيم‎), is a proposed hydroelectric dam on the Indus River at Kalabagh in the Mianwali District of Punjab Province in Pakistan. Intensely debated and deemed a necessity since its inception, if constructed the dam would have 3,600 megawatts (4,800,000 hp) of electricity generation capacity.[1]


In December 2004, then President of Pakistan General Pervez Musharraf, announced that he would build the dam to serve the larger interest of Pakistan. However, on 26 May 2008, the Federal Minister for Water and Power of Pakistan, Raja Pervez Ashraf, said that the "Kalabagh Dam would not be constructed" and that the project had been cancelled due to "opposition from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh and other stakeholders, the project was no longer feasible".[2] In 2010 after the worst floods in Pakistani history, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Yousaf Raza Gilani, stated flood damage would be minimised if the Kalabagh Dam were built.[3]

Technical facts and differing opinions[edit]

Bashir A. Malik, former chief technical advisor to the United Nations and World Bank, said, "Sindh and Pakhtunkhwah would become drought areas in the years to come if Kalabagh Dam was not built."[4] At the same time, former KPK Chief Minister Shamsul Mulk has stated that the "Kalabagh Dam would be helpful in erasing poverty from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, as it would irrigate 800,000 acres of cultivable land that is located 100–150 feet above the level of River Indus."[5] The Kalabagh Dam would provide 6.5 million acre feet of water to cultivate seven million acres of currently barren land in addition to the 3,600 megawatts (4,800,000 hp) of electricity it would provide.[6] In response to the push towards side-lining Kalabagh altogether in favour of the rival Basha Dam project, Engineer Anwer Khurshid stated that "Basha Dam is no substitute for Kalabagh Dam, not because of its altitude, which is high enough, but because no irrigation canals can be taken out from it because of the hilly terrain."[7]

Experts who supported the construction of the Kalabagh Dam at the 2012 "Save Water Save Pakistan" Forum included: Dr Salman Shah, former Finance Minister of Pakistan; Abdul Majeed Khan, TECH Society president; Shafqat Masood, former IRSA chairman; Qayyum Nizami, former Minister of State; Prof Abdul Qayyum Qureshi, former Vice-Chancellor of Islamia University, Bahawalpur; Dr Muhammad Sadiq, agricultural scientist; M Saeed Khan, former GM of Kalabagh Dam Project; Engr. Mahmudur Rehman Chughtai, Mansoor Ahmed, former MD of Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission Foundation, M. Zubair Sheikh and Jameel Gishkori, among others.[8] The participants of Save Water Save Pakistan At its conclusion, the forum demanded the construction of five dams, including the Munda Dam, Kurram Tangi Dam, Akhori Dam and the Kalabagh Dam, at by 2025 at the latest to store water and generate electricity to meet demand.

Conversely, former Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) Chief Engineer, Engr. Shahr-i-Yar Khan has claimed that construction of the Kalabagh Dam is not suitable for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and will involve significant fiscal waste when compared to the many other suitable sites for proposed dams on the Indus River. Shahr-i-Yar Khan, who has trained abroad and served in various positions at the WAPDA, highlighted various issues related to construction of the dam, stating that it would have a number of adverse effects on the generation capabilities of the Barotha power complex.

Sindh viewpoint[edit]

The province of Sindh lies nearest to the sea on the Indus River ("lower riparian") and has been the strongest opponent of the Kalabagh Dam. Its politicians have presented many objections:

  • Sindh's share of Indus water will be curtailed as water run off from the Kalabagh Dam will go to irrigate farmlands in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to Sindh's detriment. Sindhis hold that their rights as the lower riparian have precedence according to international water distribution laws.
  • The coastal regions of Sindh require a constant flow of water from the Indus to the Arabian Sea to keep seawater from intruding inland. If the flow of water is stopped, the incoming sea water would turn many areas of Sindh's coast into an arid saline desert, and destroy its coastal mangroves.
  • With the construction of dams such as the Tarbela Dam across the Indus, Sindhis have seen the once-mighty river become a shadow of its former glory downstream of the Kotri Barrage as far as Hyderabad. They fear that there is not enough water for another large dam across the Indus.
  • Sindh claims that the Indus only continues to flow downstream of the Kotri Barrage because of rain. Hence in years of low rain and with a new dam in place, Sindh fears the river would stop flowing.
  • Damming the Indus has already caused a number of environmental problems yet to be addressed. Silt deposited at the proposed Kalabagh Dam would further curtail the water storage capacity of Manchar Lake and other lakes and wetlands including Haleji Lake.
  • President Musharraf, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and other leaders, have promised "iron-clad constitutional guarantees" to ensure that Sindh get its fair share of water. However, these assurances mean little to most Sindhis, who claim that even the earlier 1991 Indus Water-Sharing Accord, a document already guaranteed by the constitutional body the Council of Common Interests, has been violated, and that Punjab has "stolen" their water without any concrete evidence.[citation needed]

Objections to the Kalabagh Dam in Sindh are widespread. The political parties of Sindh in the central cabinet who are supported by General Musharraf, such as the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, have strongly denounced the dam. Opposition towards the dam is such that the Pakistan Muslim League (N) (PML N) Sindh Chapter is in agreement with opponents of the dam. PML N's leader Nawaz Sharif, who as then Prime Minister of Pakistan, had stated in 1998 that he proposed to build the dam, retracted from his stance and declared that Sindh's viewpoint ought to be respected; no project, however essential, should be carried out that weakened Pakistan's Federation.[citation needed]

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's viewpoint[edit]

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) has two main objections to the dam:

  • KPK claims that the running of Cheshma-Jhelum link canal and overuse of water from the Tarbela Dam is a common occurrence.[citation needed]
  • Although the entire canal system of the Ghazi-Barotha hydro electric project is in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the electricity generating turbines lie just 500 metres (1,600 ft) inside Punjab such that KPK is denied to resultant royalties.[citation needed].
  • While the reservoir will be in KPK, the dam's electricity-generating turbines will be just across the provincial border in Punjab. Therefore, Punjab would get royalties from the central government in Islamabad for generating electricity.[citation needed].
  • Concerns have been voiced that large areas of the Nowshera District would be submerged by the dam and that the wider area would suffer from water-logging and salinity, as has occurred with the Tarbela Dam. As the water will be stored within the Kalabagh Dam as proposed, water levels in city areas up to 200 kilometres (120 mi) away will rise.[citation needed]. Engineers with expertise on dam construction repeatedly admitted that Nowshera City could be submerged by the dam's lake.
  • Punjab follows a paradoxical policy when it comes to canals to be run out from the Kalabagh Dam. It talks of a right bank canal which will supply water to D I Khan, but in dialogue with Sindh, rejects construction of the right bank canal as unfeasible.[citation needed]

Balochistan's viewpoint[edit]

Balochistan is not directly affected by the dam. Most nationalist Balochis claim that the dam is an instance of the grievances of smaller provinces not being taken into account. They have not commented on the dam following its cancellation.


The Prime Minister of Pakistan, Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, announced that the fate of the project would be decided by a plebiscite. The decision came after Pakistan faced an extreme power crisis and acute water shortages. The government is currently seeking alternative locations for the dam.[2]

Timeline of Events on Kalabagh Dam Controversy[edit]

  • December 2004: General Pervez Musharraf, President of Pakistan, announces that he would build the dam in the larger interest of Pakistan.
  • 29, November 2012: The Lahore High Court (LHC) orders the federal government to construct the Kalabagh Dam.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Development: Engineering design of Kalabagh dam completed". The Express Tribune. APP. Retrieved 8 July 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Kalabagh Dam shelved forever. Nation.com.pk (27 May 2008). Retrieved 6 June 2012.
  3. ^ Leading News Resource of Pakistan. Daily Times (10 August 2010). Retrieved 6 June 2012.
  4. ^ Malik, Bashir (10 October 2011). "India behind Kalabagh Dam opposition: water expert". The News International. Retrieved 11 July 2012. 
  5. ^ Mulk, Shamsul (22 May 2012). "Need for early construction of Kalabagh Dam stressed". The News International. Retrieved 11 July 2012. 
  6. ^ "Need for Kalabagh Dam". The Nation. 19 January 2012. Retrieved 11 July 2012. 
  7. ^ ANWER, KHURSHID (1 July 2012). "CCI approves Kalabagh Dam". The Nation. Retrieved 11 July 2012. 
  8. ^ "Experts for construction of dams". The News International. 5 April 2012. Retrieved 11 July 2012. 
  9. ^ [1]. Dawn (Pakistan). Retrieved 29 November 2012.

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