Water Apportionment Accord revisited June 15

by Khurshid Anwer

Under great public demand Asif Zardari and Nawaz Sharif sit down to review the Water Apportionment Accord which the latter had authored in 1991 shortly before being outsmarted for the nth time by you know who.

Zardari – We the people of Sindh do not want any dams to be built on the rivers and never on the Indus which is our river.

Nawaz – Ravi, Sutlej & Beas were our rivers but have been snatched by India. Now the whole of Pakistan has to depend on the three remaining rivers, Indus being the only one with surplus water.

Zardari – Kalabagh dam will reduce flow in the Indus.

Nawaz – If Mangla and Tarbela did not why would Kalabagh. They actually added 20 maf, 6 maf for Sindh; Kalabagh dam will add 6.1 maf, 2.2 maf for Sindh.

Zardari – you are already taking away too much water form the rivers.

Nawaz – How else can we irrigate the lands, in south Punjab and north Sindh, which were once under the command areas of Ravi, Sutlej & Beas.

Zardari – You will take away too much water from the Indus at Kalabagh dam.

Nawaz – Dams do not take away water from the river, only barrages do. The dam will store only the flood water now flowing below Kotri barrage to the sea during the 3 flood months. The remaining 9 months Indus will continue to flow as before.

Zardari – We need the water flowing below Kotri to stop sea incursion for protection of the Indus Delta.

Nawaz – Only 0.36 million acre feet per month is required for that purpose, the rest is going waste to sea.

Zardari – In that case we need more water to flow below Kotri on a monthly basis.

Nawaz – The only way to do so is to store 4.32 maf and release it in equal monthly doses. For this we need more dams. By opposing dams we are damning the Delta.

The penny has slowly started to drop now. Nawaz hits while the iron is hot.

Nawaz – We will give you more than your present share of water in the new dams. In fact I will reduce my share to bring you at par if you agree to the construction of more dams which we need very badly. We will replace Wapda with IRSA. We will even let Sindh engineers supervise water distribution to the canals in Punjab. We have not built even one dam after Ayub Khan’s two dams. Does not speak well for the civilian governments.

Zardari –  We can brick line all canals and water ways and save water equal to six Kalabagh dams.

Nawaz – The monsoon pattern is such that we have a surfeit of water for a short period and then near draught conditions for a much longer period. Dams help to store water when it is surplus (Kharif) and make it available in the lean periods (Rabi). Even if brick lining will give us so much surplus water where will we store it for later use. It will all go waste to sea.

Zardari – Alright you can build a dam but not in Punjab.

Nawaz – Kalabagh dam is the only one which can be started now having been ready to build since 1986 when your good wife put a spanner in the works. Any other dam will take too long and will not ease the energy and water shortage in the near future. Pakistan will become water-scarce in 2012.

Zardari – Alright you can build Kalabagh dam but without any canal for Punjab.

Nawaz – So the deal you are offering is that you will agree to the construction of the dam, you will also take 3% of Punjab’s share, without giving Punjab even its own share. This is not a deal, this is one for the Guinness Book of Records.

Zardari – You can take your share from the Chashma-Jhelum link canal.

Nawaz – I wish water could flow upstream. The water from Chashma will go to south Punjab and not to north Punjab. With Mangla dam silting up progressively and without water from the Indus through the left bank canal, two thirds of north Punjab will revert from irrigated to barani, with 50% loss in national food production.

Zardari – That is your problem not mine. How can I agree to Kalabagh dam with its left bank canal and then show my face in Sindh.

Nawaz – This is exactly what your delegation said in 1991 – we agree to Kalabagh dam but please don’t mention it by name in the Accord, so we can show our face in Sindh.

Nawaz – Alternately you could try telling your people what I have told you that for Sindh it is win-win situation, no loss of land , no displacement of people and 2.2 maf additional water. Sindh will not become a desert with Kalabagh dam, but nothing will stop Sindh from becoming one without it.


NB: In other countries, lower riparians having no suitable sites for dams, offer to fund dam building by the upper riparians in the mountainous regions. Australia is one example.


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