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Kalabagh Dam could have prevented the flooding in Pakistan?

Islamabad: Thousands of Pakistanis including some journalists and prime time TV show hosts said the destruction caused by devastating floods in Pakistan could have been avoided by building dams.

Social media websites in Pakiatan are flooded with posts lamenting the absence of dams especially Kalabagh dam which several political parties from Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have long opposed.

Some TV anchors advocated for Kalabagh dam without realizing that the destruction caused by floods in Swat and other areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa took place hundreds of kilometers away from Mianwali district in Punjab, the proposed location for Kalabagh dam.

Most of Pakistanis believe that dams are the only solution to prevent flooding.

Journalist Saqib Tanveer, who is associated with Independent Urdu, has compiled a Twitter thread to explain why dams are part of the problem not the solution.

The journalist corroborated his argument with multiple articles written by ace environmental journalists and examples from the countries where dams have failed to prevent flooding.

Elaborating on why dams are part of the problem, Saqib Tanveer shared a link to a report published by a credible organization Down To Earth.

In the report titled “Dams were built to control floods; they are now triggers”, the author explains how most of the recent floods in India have occurred due to sudden release of dam water.

“DAMS ARE JUST an outdated and counter-productive way to manage floods, thinks Joy. They induce a false sense of security. Instead, they leave behind a long trail of destruction,” the report said.

The Pakistan journalist also shared a report on why some dams in the United States were removed.

The report published by “American Rivers” with the title of “69 Dams Removed in 2020”, said, “Nothing restores a river like removing a dam”.

Sixty-nine dams were removed in 2020 across 23 states, including: California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

According to the report, the measure was taken to “revitalize local economies and communities and reconnect 624 upstream river miles for fish, wildlife and river health.”

It said, “A total of 1,797 dams have been removed in the U.S. since 1912. The states with the most dam removals in 2020 were Ohio (11), Massachusetts (6) and New York (6).”

The report said, “More than 90,000 dams block rivers in the U.S. Dams harm fish and wildlife habitat and ecosystem health and can pose safety risks to communities. The failure of Michigan’s Edenville Dam in May 2020 was the latest high profile example of the threat aging, outdated dams pose to public safety. A recent UN report highlighted the growing risk of aging water infrastructure.

Saqib Tanveer shared a Reuters report on “How the famous Three Gorges dam in China is coming under criticism for not being able to do its job i.e. control flooding.”

Three Gorges Dam is so large that it has slowed the Earth’s rotation by 0.06 microseconds.

The Reuters report published in 2020 said “As China counts the costs of its most punishing flood season in more than three decades, the role played by the massive and controversial Three Gorges Dam – designed to help tame the Yangtze river – has come under fresh scrutiny.”

Critics said the historically high water levels on the Yangtze and its major lakes prove the Three Gorges Dam isn’t doing what it was designed for.

Quoting a report by thethirdpole.net, the Pakistan journalist wrote:

“Can Kalabagh solve the problem?

“The Tarbela dam can hold 12 billion cubic meter (BCM), Mangla 7 BCM, all other smaller ones combined, another 3 (BCM). Kalabagh, if it is ever built, would add a modest 6 BCM. But we are up against 135 BCM during the monsoon.”

Check out the full thread below for details:

The feature image in this article shows China’s Three Gorges Dam (Photo courtesy Reuters)

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