Sindh experts reject proposed Akhori Dam project

KARACHI: A panel of experts while speaking at Sindh Policy Studies Dialogue on ‘Water and Census Issues’ rejected the proposed Akhori Dam, describing it ‘uneconomic’ venture besides being against the interests of this province.

The experts also called for implementing the Supreme Court verdict on illegal immigrants, utilizing the database of NADRA for ensuring fair census process, stopping the people of other provinces from casting their vote in Sindh besides taking certain constitutional measures like issuance of work permit to restrict their movement to this province.

The dialogue was organized here Saturday evening by Sindh Writers and Thinkers Forum. Former Additional Chief Secretary, Planning & Development, Sindh Fazlullah Qureshi, former Secretary Irrigation, Sindh Muhammad Idrees Rajput, former Secretary Abdul Ghaffar Soomro, former Chief Water & Power, Planning & Development, Sindh, Ghulam Mustafa Abro, Prof. Aijaz Qureshi, Muzaffar Chandio, Noor Ahmed Memon, Nasir Aijaz and Manzoor Solangi spoke at the meeting.

The proposed project is part of Water Vision 2025 of Federal Government its site is located near Akhori Village, 28km east of Attock and 40km west of Islamabad in Punjab province. The proposed dam, with height of above 400ft and length of 5.16km would have reservoir capacity of above 6 MAF water. It would inundate more than 30 villages and displace 50, 000 people but hardly 600MW electricity could be produced.

As per plan, the dam will be filled by the water spilled from Tarbela Dam during the flood season, while the Indus flood pattern shows that the water spills out from Tarbela only after two or three years, which means even if the proposed dam receives water in certain season, there would be no water supplies to it for a long period making it unworkable the experts viewed.

Investing billions of rupees on such a project would just be a ‘bad investment’ for not being economically feasible, they said exhorting the authorities at the helms of affairs to attach first priority to the Bhasha Dam, which is a consensus project.

The experts opined that executing the disputed project of Akhori Dam like that of Kalabagh Dam would further widen the gulf of distrust against Punjab. The revised PC-I of the Akhori Dam project includes construction of Akhori-Rasul Link Canal that would draw Indus water like Chashma-Jhelum and Taunsa-Punjnad link canals, which is ample proof that Indus water would be diverted to Jhelum they said.

Discussing the census issue, the experts sited the examples of manipulation taking place in house-counting in the past and urged the government to take extra measures for conducting fair census. Karachi in particular and rest of Sindh in general cannot afford further influx of people from other provinces. Sindh lacks infrastructure and employment resources even for its own people, therefore, the movement of people from other provinces and tribal areas is direly needed to be checked they said.

The experts demanded that the illegal immigrants including Afghan refugees should be counted and registered separately and similarly the people from other provinces should have no right of vote in Sindh.