Kala Bagh Dam – A Ray of Hope

By: Dr Nabeel Alvi

Water is one of the most important natural resource and the major driving force for the economy of Pakistan. Only a few decades ago, Pakistan was considered to have copiousness of good quality water. Now population growth, economic development, rapid urbanization and industrialization, are applying continuous pressure on the already limited water resources of Pakistan. Alarming situation is that Pakistan is at number 6 globally in the list of water stressed countries. Immediately after its inception, in 1951, per capita surface water availability for irrigation was estimated at 5650 cubic meters; this declined abruptly to only 1350 cubic meters per head in 2002. The minimum amount that should be available is 1000 cubic meters. According to the report of United Nations development program, availability of water is 1090m3 per capita per year.

A report issued by Asian Development Bank stated: “Pakistan is one the most water-stressed countries in the world, not far from being classified as ‘water scarce’, with less than 1,000 cubic meters per person per year”. When to think about this water shortage and who to think?? Dams, especially KalaBagh, have a real and substantial importance in reducing the scarcity of water from Pakistan. Here are some facts regarding annual water wastage in Pakistan: · According to WAPDA Pakistan wastes water worth 25 billion every year. · Pakistan receives 145 million acres of water every year. However, only 45M acre feet of water is preserved. · Tarbella is the largest earth filled dam but its storage capacity is reduced from 9.6 million acres feet (MAF) to about 6.6 MAF. In all the alarming circumstances, it is indispensable to build new dams including Kala Bagh dam. Kala Bagh dam is the biggest water storage, irrigation and hydroelectric project but its completion is still questionable. There might be different political and situational reservations based on riparian differences i.e. flooding fear in some areas of KPK while water shortage and reduce fishery in areas of Sindh. But recent studies didn’t provide any evidence of above reservations.

Kala Bagh dam has the wide range of advantages i.e.

  • Increase in storage capacity of water which will reduce the water wastage every year.
  • Provision of million acres water to all provinces of Pakistan.
  • It would reduce the severity and frequency of flooding.
  • The Kala Bagh Dam can provide 6.5 million acre feet of water to nurture seven million acres of currently infertile land in addition to the 3,600 megawatts of electricity.
  • Provision of water for the irrigation to 800,000 acres of land that is located 100-150 feet above the Indus River.


Kala Bagh dam is inevitable for the progress and prosperity of Pakistan as it would expectedly produce electricity at an average cost of Rs2 per kilowatt hour (kWh). “Water Shortage is a shared problem of all; but the question is what we will do to cope with it,”

Dr Nabeel Alvi

Pharmacist by profession and writer by choice twitter