World Bank Interests and Kalabagh Dam
True to its mandate - trap the developing or new emerging economies into the world wide web of vicious exploitation by the wealthy nations, the World Bank is doing its best to continuously express its readiness to finance the Kala Bagh Dam. The Bank has to meet some debt targets for each country and the quota of Pakistan has fallen down a level that the closure of its Islamabad Mission has been imminent. The World Bank Chief is reported to have any role in destabilising PPP governmernt. The Director of the Mission is said to have pledged to make the present Government a success; which means that liberal funding has to be provided for costly projects in Pakistan. The Kala Bagh is the biggest project on Bank’s Agenda.
The game plan began in 1962. Sir William Illif, Chairman of the Bank in collaboration with USAID stood for Kala Bagh Dam but the WAPDA favoured Tarbela, which became the entity very soon after.
The ones who thrive on borrowed money do know but little about the implications of debts on interest; particularly for those activities which are within the building capacity of people themselves. On the other hand, if loans are aquired to provide the services, specially the social services, the beneficiaries do not pay the actual user charges and the burden of debt servicing is transferred to the whole nation.
Is electricity the objective?
The Kalabagh Dam is social service to electricity users who do not pay for it. The Dam was supposed to generate electricity only as the lower reparians are made to believe. The Punjab is however aspiring to draw a few thousand cusecs for irrigation since, according to it, the water allocated to it has, would not be fully utilized otherwise. Sarhad Province has other reservations. A part of this province would be submerged - even the town of Nowshera is provided to be provided with protective embankment. This is a highly risky proposal. Unless continuously kept under the eye and maintained at high cost, the embankment may give way and wipe out the whole city. This objection is said to be complied with by reducung the high pond level. This will call for the redesign of the generating plant to keep the promised generation capacity in tact. Another inducement to the Sarhad Province is promised in the form of a little drop of water to irrigate its mera lands in influential Marwat area.
Alternatives are there.
If only electric power was the problem, there exist better sites in the high hills. The construction of hydro-electric power generation plants, for example at Bhasha, is the most appropriate answer. The site will not create any population dislocation, use crop area as a pond or cause any environmental hazard. Never-the-less, Ghazi Barotha Power Project is under construction and would give a little respite before demand for more power is created.
The same music is being played again and again to tire out the authentic and down to earth observations; and only to satisfy an ego that the Punjab has no hydro-power station of its own. Other provinces, specially the Sarhad and Baluchistan are being royalty for electric power and natural gas respectively. Punjab has succeeded to have a share of sea port taxes by having a number of dry ports in that province. Its aim appears to be to either reduce the share of royalties of other provinces or be a share holder in it. This approach is highly dangerous. By reducing other provinces’ share in revenue Punjab will not benefit tangibly. It is already having a lion’s share from divisible pool on the basis of its population which is dispersed all over the country. As reason would demand, more funds from divisble pool must be given to provinces where chances of more development exist and would contribute to national economy.
The original assertions behind the construction of Kala Bagh was to develope another source of `Power Generation’. The Irrigation component was vehemently denied. The latter developmentss indicated that provisions were made to divert some water for irrigation, though this has not been confirmed openly. Now that opposition to the construction of Dam has achieved new proportions, a strategy is feared to have been developed to create shortage of power.
This historical canal withdrawls by province (in maf) are given for selected years:
Year Sarhad Punjab Sindh and Baluchistan Total Remarks
1946-47 3.72 36.47 27.16 67.36 Before independence
1957-58 4.05 45.70 32.63 82.38 During treaty negotiations
1961-62 4.72 47.46 30.68 82.86 Just after treaty
1971-72 3.16 43.60 39.89 86.65 After the end of treaty transitional arrangements
1976-77 3.02 54.47 40.58 98.07 After using Tarbela waters
1980-81 3.28 55.80 48.90 107.40
1984-85 2.99 53.12 44.97 101.08
Accord allocations 8.78 55.94 52.63 114.35 (16 March 1991 )
It may be noted that water of Mangla reservoir along with the full waters of Jhelum and Chenab are exclusively reserved for Punjab. The groundwater resources are not included. The share of Sarhad includes the withdrawls of civil canals as well. Down stream Kotri is provided with 10 maf but not included in 114.35 maf (utilizeable availability)
Inaction to establish imperative
Though very innocent, the watershed management has not been accorded the same priority in Tarbela catchment as is done in case of Mangla Watersheds. The catchment area has witnessed increased logging and deforestation under the government patronage. This has increased the silt deposits in the dam. The statistics are the witness.
The additional power generation capacity has also been based on the level of irrigation tunnel, which is again subject to water level much higher than usually obtaining. A break down has already occured due to carriage of silt into the turbines and the cooling water for the bearings, which use tailrace water. Which increasing silt dredging in a shallow Tarbela pond, there is always danger of breakdowns and shutouts. This is a vreated reason for the construction of Kalabagh dam. Even if the Tarbla reservoir is dredged, one there is no place to deposit the debris and two even if it is transported, the cost will be much more than the construction of a Kala Bagh Dam.
The Kala Bagh is said to rely for its intake water on the drainage of Kabul River, Swan River, Kurram River and general area in the potwar. Ironically, the rains in this area are not as much as the estimates present. There are pockets of high rains and pockets of low rains - virtually no rains. The farmers are observed to leave some upper field fallow to allow rain waters collected in lower fields. Wheat and oats are grown on these fields. However if a dry spell occurs and maturity of crop becomes doubtful, the crop is cut and used as green fodder for animals. This is enough evidence that the rain water is not a reliable Even from a statistian’s point of view the `Water Availablity’ works out to be half than the projected. The dam shall have to depend upon utilizing the waters released from Tarbela Dam. Its repurcussions are not being appreciated at the moment.
The calculations based on total water availability are falacious. The reliable data of the catchment is not available. Even the gestimates that are aimed at esttablishing the viability of dam, show that only once in sixty five years water would be available to fill the dam to its designed height. This too would be possible if all the waters from Tarbela were released.
The Pond Extension into fertile lands of Sarhad and the Punjab are more of a loss than some gain of electric power for industry, tubewells and drainage pumps. This aspect of barter between population displacement in dam affected area and economic benefits, if these could be considered welcome benefits, needs close examination.
The life of dam in the barren wilderness can not be accurately predicted. There are flash floods due to heavy hill torrents if there occur spontaneous heavy rains, and these do occur. These waters carry very heavy silt load. One sees the layers of mud moving down. What would be the fate of dam. Only God knows. There is great need to rely on actual observations through the ages than yield to sporadic calculations because modern computers were used to develope models.
The politicians at the head and at the tail are making noise only to deafen the people. There is already a talk of consensus. This consensus could be achieved at the dinner table. The government of time will tell that it has solve a problem of the century. This is not a political issue and hence the politians must remain in peace. The government in power must however examine the consequences, in the national interest, of the feasibility, liability and misfortunes to follow the construction of the dam. There is no need to bulldoze the issue on the strength of majority or matter of pride of a province.
The Prime Minister is said to have directed members of his party and allies not to issue public statements on the Kala Bagh dam. The ANP has openly opposed the construction of the dam. The advocates of the dam are in haste to suggest that this is the time when the government cashed on the opportunity to take the political heat off the issue, given its handsome parliamentary majorrity, and persuade its allies to see how this dam is in the interest of all the provinces. It should not forsake this opportunity out of fear that one of its allies, who has long opposed the Kala Bagh dam, will be permanently alienated.
The Province of Sindh could be the sufferer but it has no unity of voice of its own Assembly nor it can oppose it with one voice in the Senate. The interest groups have individual interests. But the ANP leaders have already warned that 1971 like situation is in the offing, when the West Pakistan under leadership of the Punjab could not satisfy its population-wise big brother - the then East Pakistan on matters of parity.
The technical unviable projects can’t be made viable by playing with figures, and, the provinces who will suffer shall not sit silent. This will create a political havoc on this land.
Kala Bagh Dam pond will, no doubt, cover a terrain which has not been agriculturally exploited. The men folk have therefore taken army as profession. The womenfolk left behind tend some cows and goat. When men come on leave, and they do come at the time of plating or harvesting crop, they hire a tractor with cultivator and cover the seed under shallow soil layer or rent a thresher to clean the grain. This is their regular visitations. Non-the-less, the area has cultural history. The remnants of centurues old culture will drown in for ever.
Environmental Impact does not appear to have been assessed. The EIA is no problem. The question is that of the philosophy, human satisfaction and age old attachments. The EIA may come up with some problems like displacement of population, coverage of a vast area that may influence atmosphere, the seepage that may pose new problems to the Punjab and submergance of living culture into pages of history. But there is always the Bank: Create Problems so that we give you solutions.
Bad name is also a name
Bank President James Wolfensohn’s own story: He was asked about Oxfam’s claim that making Uganda wait until next year for its debt relief deal would cost it $190 million. "My father once said to me, `Never lend money to anybody, because if you ever let them not repay, they will be your enemies.’" "I am finding myself now in this idiotic situation in relation to Uganda and the developing world. I was hoping in my dreams that when all this happened, I would come and I would get standing ovation, instead of which people say, `You are a son of a bitch.’" Standing ovation he did get for telling this story.
Bank’s Role and Future of Uganda-likes
Bank is there with coffers full to find a solution to any problem. It is not bothered if its solutions create more serious problems. The rat is mightier than the mountain because it can make hole in it. The Bank is rock and the developing rats around are making holes in it. They are proud that they have made hole in the Bank, little realising that their labour of love is lost once the Bank caves in on them.