LAHORE, Nov 30: The Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Friday hailed the Lahore High Court’s decision on Kalabagh dam which it termed inevitable because of an acute shortage of energy, fast depleting irrigation water resources and frequent occurrence of floods in the Indus.
In a statement, LCCI President Farooq Iftikhar, Senior Vice-President Irfan Iqbal Sheikh and Vice-President Mian Abuzar Shad said the LHC verdict had given a new lease of life to the people suffering because of multiple problems including unavailability of electricity.
The government, they said, must implement the LHC verdict to save arable lands from turning barren. Only because of the government’s silence is the country suffering an annual loss of Rs132 billion, they said and added that the amount could be saved by initiating the project.
They said there was no threat to Nowshehra city as it was 150 feet above the water level. They said it was very unfortunate that the decision-makers in the country had nothing to lose and rather enjoyed perks despite making wrong decisions.
They said the dam was not only beneficial to Punjab but it would also help mitigate poverty from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and irrigate 800,000 acres of cultivable land that was located 100-150 feet above the Indus river level in the province.
They said this land could only be brought under cultivation if the river level was raised and that was only possible if Kalabagh Dam was built. They said the other alternative was to pump the water that was very costly. They said the creditable studies had indicated that pumping water for potential cultivable land would cost farmers Rs5,000 per acre annually whereas the canal water after construction of the dam would cost only Rs400 per acre annually.
Any further delay in building a consensus on the issue would cost the country and its coming generations dearly, they said while urging the stakeholders to show maturity.
The LCCI office-bearers said India was constructing dams at every possible site and it had left us decades behind.
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 reservoir to store it. More importantly, as a result of melting of glaciers due to global warming, a threat of floods persists.
They said another significant aspect connected with the construction of the dam was the surety of sufficient amount of electricity at comparatively low price. The country’s dependence on power generated through thermal sources was costing us way too much, leading to insurmountable challenges to remain competitive both in national and international markets.
Electricity generation through thermal sources is estimated to cost almost Rs16 per unit whereas the same can be produced at Rs2.5 to Rs3 through hydel source.
They said the present scenario led to import of oil worth over US $12 billion a year.