KALABAGH DAM Unlike several other countries with large river systems, Pakistan was able to construct a number of water-diversion projects without meeting serious opposition from environmental groups or from the people residing in the lower reaches of the rivers This relatively complacent attitude toward large water-usage projects changed in the early 1980s when the country initiated preliminary works on design and construction of the Kalabagh dam Kalabagh is a site downstream from the Tarbela dam At Kalabagh, the Indus River leaves the hills of the northern areas and enters the plains of PunjabWith the people of Sindh and the Northwest Frontier Province opposed to the construction of the Kalabagh dam, not much progress was made on the project in the 1980s and 1990s The dam was opposed on a number of grounds Its opponents argued that a large dam in Punjab would deprive the farmers in the lower reaches of the river of adequate water, would cause grave environmental damage to the Indus delta, and would displace hundreds of thousands of people by submerging the city of Nowshera The first administration of Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif (1990-1993) was of the view that by getting the four provinces to agree on a formula to apportion the water in the Indus river system, it had set the stage to begin work on the dam That did not happen The government of Benazir Bhutto appointed Ghulam Mustafa Khar minister in charge of water and power

Khar was in favor of constructing the dam, but his enthusiasm for the project could not overcome the political difficulties the project continued to facePrime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif tried to revive the Kalabagh dam project when he returned to power in February 1997 In a nationally televised speech announcing the news that Pakistan had tested six nuclear devices in Balochistan on 28 and 30 May, the prime minister promised to begin work on the dam as a way of eliminating Pakistan’s dependence on imported fuel Once again, however, the opposition to the dam by Sindh and the Northwest Frontier Province stalled the government’s effortsThe idea of constructing the dam was revived by General Pervez Musharraf after he assumed political power in October 1999 The new military leader let it be known that he was in favor of constructing not only the Kalabagh Dam but also a number of other water storage reservoirs on the country’s major and minor rivers His government made strong efforts to get broad support for these “mega projects” In December 2005, President Musharraf announced that his government was intending to go ahead with the construction of the dam See also WATER AND POWER DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY

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