Kalabagh Dam Pakistan has to be built eventually

Kalabagh Dam

Kalabagh Dam (KBD), like all other proposed dams, has to be built eventually. Kalabagh dam issue needs to be resolved. Pakistan loses 30 MAF water each year to the Arabian Sea. Sea encroachment into the Sindh delta just requires 10 MAF of fresh water flowing through. So, technically we should be storing 20 MAF every year — which we are not. I will be very factual in my assessment about this dam:

Pros’ of Kalabagh Dam:

I’ve been to the Kalabagh dam location site; see for yourself –it’s an empty wasteland — very few towns around Kalabagh will have to move.

kalabagh dam

KBD will provide Cheap 3500 MW electricity at Rs 3 per KWh as compared to Rs 19 per KWh for furnace oil. At a capacity of 3600 MW, the annual fuel savings will be $ 4.0 Billion.

The current Pakistani balance of payment crisis maybe in part by our inability to lower annual electricity generation cost — which was fuel dependent (at $ 10 billion per year) — since KBD was conceived.

6.1 Mill Acre Feet of new water storage would have just about offset the losses in the other dams in five decades. This translates into $ 1 billion annual revenues in Irrigation.

In the 2010 floods, Tarbela dam ( we visited tarbela dam and here is our account) stopped 200,000 cusecs flood water out of 800,000 cusecs rushing down. This saved Sukkar Barrage further downstream.

Save flooding downstream of Sindh Indus delta that caused $ 45 billion in losses to Sindh in 2010. 


Water availability for Kharif (summertime sowed) crop when there is no rainfall. Presently Kharif shortfall is 48% which is a drought like situation in Pakistan and may lead to famine.


The dam will irrigate 800,000 acre of high-ground in DI Khan at Rs 400 per acre where tube wells cost Rs 5000 per acre.

Full cost ($ 6 billion) payback after 8-9 years followed by Profits.

Save water from the fast-depleting glaciers of Pakistan like Boltoro, Biafo and Siachen. They are likely to be completely melted in a few decades.

KBD will mitigate the effect of Global warming that will lead to rising in temperatures, flash floods, many years of drought, and famine. This year for the first time Tarbela dam hit dead level due to very weak rainfalls.

China has built 8500 dams and India 4500, even some on Pakistani waters, why would they do that if large dams were not vital?


Shams ul haq the former chairman WAPDA said that World Bank experts in 1992 had recommended construction of KBD before Bhasha Dam. He further said KBD was scuttled by vested interests inside Pakistan and their foreign sponsors that do not want a stable country. KBD would be a poke in their eye.

Allow provinces to utilize the formula agreed in the 1991 inter-provincial water accord. Without stored water, there will be serious conflict.

It is a technically feasible, seismically secure and cost-wise less expensive option.

The dam feasibility is complete, land acquisition has been done and even engineer’s colonies have been set up and the cost is a mere $ 6 billion compared to $ 15 billion Bhasha Dam.

It will quickly come online in 5 years

Cons’ of Kalabagh Dam:

Political conflict is expected if Sindh is not given control of the water storage of KBD, canals exiting KBD, Chasma-Jehlum canal, and Taunsa-Panjnad Canals. In any case KBD will be filled in flooding years.

Heavy investment will be required by Sindh in installing Reverse Osmosis plants all across Sindh to convert brackish subsoil water to potable one. This they should do anyway.

The expected environmental damage to downstream embankment area agriculture can be mitigated by the steady release of 10MAF water from the KBD pond.


Kalabagh Dam is too lucrative a project to let go and therefore, must be made — just not in a hurry. Now that Pakistan is a democracy, consensus on awarding water release control to Sindh will take a few more years to settle down. Things are however moving in the right direction i.e. public debate.

To all the detractors deliberately trying to sabotage KBD — eat dirt!

Frequently Asked Questions on Kalabagh Dam

Why Kalabagh Dam Isn’t built?

Kalabagh Dam hasn’t been built because the elite in Pakistan have never been brought to power through popular vote and, hence have no incentive to pursue politically costly issues that are vital to the long-term survival of the country.

What is Kalabagh Famous for?

The Kalabagh in Mianwali is famous for Iron Ore Deposits and the old city beyond the iron bridge. The other Kalabagh in Nathiagali Murree is famous for its wildlife and pristine jungle

Why is Kalabagh called Kalabagh?

Kala is “dark”. Therefore, Kalabagh derives its name from the thick dark jungle in these areas.

What languages are spoken in Kalabagh?

Kalabagh was made a  settlement of different ethnicities so Hindko, Seraiki, Punjabi, and some pushto is spoken here.

Who was the Nawab of Kalabagh?

Malik Amir Muhammad Khan was declared the Nawab of Kalabagh in service of the British Crown against the hapless local people.

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