LAHORE  - The Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry Saturday advocated early construction of Kalabagh Dam, saying that the dam was inevitable to control poverty and hunger.

LCCI President Irfan Qaiser Sheikh urged the government to constitute a team of experts belonging to public and private sectors to convince all the provinces that Kalabagh Dam is necessary for Pakistan’s progress and prosperity. The experts have already proved that there is no threat to Nowshehra city as it is 150 feet above the water level, he added. He said the Kalabagh Dam was not only beneficial to Punjab alone but would also be more helpful in erasing poverty from Khyber Pakhtunkhawa as it would irrigate 800,000 acres of cultivable land that is located 100-150 feet above the Indus River level in the province. He said this land could only be brought under cultivation if the river level is raised that is only possible if Kalabagh Dam is built.

Irfan Sheikh said civil society would have to play a crucial role in creating a larger consensus as new large water reservoirs would benefit every Pakistani, fearing that a further delay in evolving a consensus from all stakeholders on the construction of unduly politicized Kalabagh Dam would cost this country and its coming generations very dearly. All the stakeholders should show some greater maturity on the issue of Kalabagh, he said, adding that it was the high time that all undue stands should be brushed aside to save the country from that era of darkness. The LCCI President said, “Unlike Pakistan, India is constructing dams at every possible site and has left us decades behind and coming time does not promise any good thing either and everyone knows that existing dams are constantly silting up leaving ever decreasing capacity to store water.”

The construction of Kalabagh dam along with other new ones is desperately needed to store adequate water, he maintained.

According to a conservative estimate about 30 million acre feet of water is being wasted into the sea because the country has no big water reservoirs to store it, he said and added that more importantly, as a result of melting of glaciers due to global warming, a Sword of Damocles remained hanging over our heads in the shape of floods, which had hit hard the country in recent years.  Another significant aspect connected with the construction of Kalabagh Dam is the surety of sufficient quantum of electricity at comparatively much cheaper price. The country’s dependence on power generated through thermal sources is costing us way too much causing to face insurmountable challenges to remain competitive both in national and international markets.

He said that so far the Punjab Assembly has neither passed any resolution in favour of Kalabagh Dam nor against it whereas other three provincial assemblies have opposed its construction. Since, Punjab is facing the real brunt of energy shortage, therefore, we strongly urge that Punjab Assembly must pass a resolution for immediately building all the feasible dams including Kalabagh dam.