Why Oppose Kalabagh Dam?
Sindh opposes construction of the Kalabagh Dam, because:
It is environmentally hazardous,
It is intended for stealing Sindh's share of Indus waters, and
It will consolidate Punjab's political and economic stranglehold on Sindh.
Kalabagh Dam is Environmentally Hazardous
The Sindh delta region, on which hundreds of thousands of native Sindhis living in the coastal areas depend for their livelihood, has already suffered immense damage because of illegal diversion of Indus water by Punjab over decades. Peter Meynell of IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources - the world's largest conservation related organization) notes that "Indus Delta is on the brink of an ecological disaster". Rejecting Pakistan central government's callous attitude, he adds that it "is irresponsible to say that we may as well cut off all the water and sediment reaching the delta, since the damage has been done and since Pakistan needs all the water it can get for energy and agriculture upstream. This would be denying the remaining benefits of the delta to the coastal communities and to the national economy". Experts recommend that at least 30 Million Acre Foot (MAF) water should be allowed to flow downstream of Kotri barrage.
"The Indus in Pakistan once brought down 600 million tonnes (of silt); half reached the sea and half fertilized the alluvial plain. Today, just 50 million tonnes passes the upstream barrages and dams... Gazdar, who lectures at the Berkeley as well as the University of Karachi, argues that building the Kalabagh Dam to provide yet more water will "promise a rose garden but deliver dust". It is, he says, "reminiscent of the Indus Valley Civilization downfall 3500 years ago"; archaeologists are now uncovering strong evidence that this, one of the world's earliest civilizations, was brought down largely by accumulation of salt in its irrigated fields." - Fred Pearce, "New Scientist", 1990
"If completed, the [Kalabagh] dam would trap an estimated two-thirds of the sediments of the Indus River, which has the fifth highest sediment load in the world. Critics of the project claim that by increasing salinity and waterlogging, the project will further degrade agricultural productivity of the Indus Basin as well as destroy mongrove and riverine forests, fisheries, and the Indus Delta." - World Rivers Review, 1989
"Sindh irrigation expert, and former Senator, Kazi has argued time and again that historical records of WAPDA establish that total availability of Indus flows cannot satisfy committed allocations. In consequence, any additional upstream reservoir such as Kalabagh will either lie unfilled in all 5 out of 6 years, or the Indus delta will be lucky to get even a measly 10 MAF of water in only 1 of 6 years." - Aly Ercelawn, Karamat Ali, Omar Asghar Khan, Citizens Alliance in Reforms for Efficient and Equitable Development (CREED)
History of Violations by Punjab Dominated Pakistan Government
Punjab and Sindh have had a long-standing dispute over Indus water. After independence of Pakistan in 1947, as Punjab has imposed its will on Sindh in every other matter, it has also freely violated agreements with Sindh about the Indus water. Kalabagh Dam will give complete physical control of the flow of Indus to the Punjab dominated central government. Through the history of Pakistan, Punjab has repeatedly violated Sindh's rights on Indus waters. When necessary, concessions have been illegally extracted by Punjab through unrepresentative "leaders" installed by the center to govern Sindh. To give some recent examples, the 1991 "Water Accord" and the 1997 "National Finance Award", both were signed to the detriment of Sindh. The latter was extracted from an unelected care-taker Chief Minister of Sindh, appointed by the central government. The former "accord" too was signed by an unrepresentative government installed through widespread rigging admittedly funded by the federal intelligence agency, ISI.
Further, even these very agreements have been blatantly violated repeatedly. For decades the Tarbela Dam (constructed in 1976) has been used for illegal diversion of Indus waters toward Punjab. Link canals are illegally kept open through most of the year with little recourse for Sindh. In these circumstances, Kalabagh will only serve as an additional tool in the hands of Punjab to effectively deprive Sindh of its water.
The recent military dictatorship in Pakistan attempted to change loyalties of the staunchest opponents of the Kalabagh Dam by offering them lucrative positions in their illegal government. Some of them recently resigned from the Sindh government. Others are are still serving.
Resistance Movement in Sindh
Sindh has long resisted undemocratic and illegal military rules in Pakistan. Sindh also has an indigenous movement to seek freedom from exploitation and oppression by the Punjab dominated center. With the history of their brutality in the 1971 Bangladeshi freedom movement, where millions of innocent Bangali civilians were murdered by Pakistan's Punjabi military, it is only expected that given Kalabagh Dam, Punjab will attempt to starve Sindh into submission at times of dissent. Now that Pakistan is a nuclear power, external intervention is also less likely. No nation should have to live under such a sense of absolute and permanent subjugation.