The social media drive to build Kalabagh dam on war footing gained momentum as water crisis largely looming over the country. The Social Media’s wizards calling it a last resort to avert future water crisis of the country, have initiated a vigorous campaign to build controversial Kalabagh Dam at all cost.
The project of Kalabagh Dam was abundant because there was no national consensus on its construction. The former chief minister of Punjab has recently stated that the dam could be built only when a national consensus was reached among the four provinces. The campaign’s aggressive and emotional tone even suggests sacrificing a few lives of those who come in the way of this national cause. “Act now before it is too late” and “Vote for sale price is Kalabagh Dam” are popular slogans attracting youth, contributing emotional sharing to prove their nationalism and patriotism.
The drive has also invoked debate in which pros and corns of building Kalabagh Dam is being discussed technically and emotionally. The campaign even includes an opinion survey for or against the cause to involve more public interest. A message reads as titled, “An Appeal for the sake of Pakistan, potential locations where dams can be built and given in state’s custody because it is matter of Pakistan’s survival. And those opposing this cause should be punished under treason law in military courts. Give your answer in Yes or No”.
The move also seems to develop consensus and suggests to shunning differences based on provincialism, ethnicity and political affiliation for “One Nation One Pakistan.”
Facebook, Whatsapp and Twitter accounts are major components to reach maximum number of people to build a case containing factual information to sensitize them about this dam’s importance. The attention of targeted readership is solicited through a message that the dam’s completion would help irrigate the country’s around 170,000 acres of land in both Sindh and Kyhber Pakhtunkhwa provinces.
In addition some 3,600 megawatt cheap hydel electricity can be added to the national grid just costing almost two rupees per unit which would save $ four billion annually on account of power generation. A compelling message urging the citizens to make dam’s construction as priority task for vote seeker against the demand of vote stated “Vote for sale, price is Kalabagh Dam.”
A message sharing a national daily’s story depicting “Pakistan may have no water by 2025” and forcing the folks to make Kalabagh Dam as top trend on social sites stated “we are in Red zone, now or never, please bring it on trending. We really need it.”
The campaign did not restrict itself to an ordinary man but also manage to get attention of celebrities as one of the Pakistan’s political commentator Zaid Hamid tweeted “Campaign of Kalabagh Dam has hurt the Indians so much that FB (facebook) is deleting accounts and blocking users who are promoting KBD(Kalabagh dam). “Just as FB does, when you try to expose Indian crimes in Kashmir. Entire Indian lobby in Pak and on SM (social media) is in panic over our demand for KBD.” Talking to APP, an advocate of High Court Usman Nawaz Proya was of the view that the country is on the verge of collapse due to water scarcity. “Climate change, deforestation and water shortage are the national issues that cannot be ignored” Usman added.
He appealed the voters to beware of a person to whom they would cast vote should have the ability to articulate such issues on the floor of National Assembly. He urged the masses not to let down their voices this time so it could be heard for convenience of the public at large.
There have been very strong arguments for and against the Kalabagh Dam but the project failed to generate a national consensus. However, the issue has been again raised by the social media which now-a-days quite often set the stage for the news media.
Meanwhile, former WAPDA chairman Engineer Shamsul Mulk said the construction of new hydel dams, including Kalabagh dam, were vital to control massive loss of water during monsoon and to meet growing energy and agricultural needs of the ever increasing population of the water starved country.
Pakistan can face a major water crisis if we did not construct dams including Kalabagh and Diamir Bhasha by 2025,” he told APP.
He said the construction of new dams including Kalabagh and Diamir Bhasha were inevitable to overcome the acute energy shortage and to tackle water situation currently being faced by the country. Terming Kalabagh dam as technically most feasible project, Shams said there was absolutely no harm to Khyber Pakthunkhwa from its construction.
The reservations being raised by some quarters regarding drowning of Nowshera, Charsaadda, Swabi, Mardan and Peshawar districts after construction of Kalabagh dam were not based on facts and ground realities,” he said. “Dams are necessary to feed increasing population, increase the cultivation area, boost industrial output and to save the country from becoming a desert,” he said.
Shamsul Mulk said construction of mega dams was imperative for speedy development, and sustained economic and agricultural growth, besides playing key role in employment opportunities generation, poverty alleviation and bringing direct foreign investment to the country. —APP