ISLAMABAD - Federal Minister for Water and Resources Syed Javed Ali Shah has reiterated his demand to develop consensus on construction of controversial Kalabagh Dam, saying the project has been greatly politicised.
Kalabagh Dam issue has been politicised and all the provinces should resolve this issue with consensus, he told journalists after attending an event of visual-guide based on Fourth National Flood Protection Plan. The forum was organised by LEAD Pakistan in collaboration with National Flood Commission and The Asia Foundation.
Those who are opposing the project should satisfy us or let our experts satisfy them through facts. By constructing Kalabagh Dam around 80 per cent of Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces will benefit, as instead of wasting water, we should utilise it, he added.
Last month Sindh Assembly has once again passed a resolution against the controversial Kalabagh Dam and termed the project a dead horse. The move came after Federal Minister for Water Resources Javed Shah’s remarks in the parliament in favour of the dam. Besides, three provincial assemblies of Sindh, Balochistan and KP had decade-old resolution against the dam.
The minister said that southern Punjab is the food basket of Pakistan and the areas is being adversely affecting due to non-construction of the dam. He said: “After raising the issue (Kalabagh Dam) in the parliament, Sindh Assembly has brought a resolution against me but as far I understand importance of this dam so I used to talk on it”.
He further said that when Pakistan went to the international court against India, the stance of New Delhi was that Pakistan was not using water but wasting it. He said that India is continuously violating the Indus Water Treaty.
To a question, he said in the presence of the Indus River System Authority, nobody can steal water of other province. The authority’s chairman has been appointed from small provinces aimed to mitigate their sense of deprivation. “We are allowing more water to fall into the sea against the allowed limit. For controlling this trend and benefit the nation and economy we must build big water reservoirs,” he maintained.
Earlier speaking during the launch event of visual guide based on Fourth National Flood Protection Plan, the Minister called water the socio-economic lifeline of Pakistan and said that it will make or break future development prospects on the basis of management approach for this precious resource. “The newly-established Ministry of Water Resources is a manifestation of the increasing importance that the federal government attaches to water resources,” he added.
TO a question regarding Water Policy, Shah said under current political uncertainty, the policy can’t be approved.
Speaking to the participants, Chairman Federal Flood Commission Ahmad Kamal said latest data from the PMD shows that an additional 23-25 districts that were earlier not vulnerable to urban floods are now under threat. He said that floods of historical proportions during the last decade are a stark reminder of the long journey ahead for a flood resilient future.
He said that historically, floods occurred from North to South as 2010 and 2011 floods took place from East to West which shows that we can’t just go by historical standards, we need to be flexible.
CEO LEAD Pakistan Ali Tauqeer Sheikh said that flood is not an enemy of our agrarian economy as flood is only considered an enemy when there is a failure of our upstream governance of managing our watersheds. He said only engineering solutions are not enough to manage the floods, ecological solutions and managing floodplains are the key to river and flood.
He further emphasised that all development projects, including motorways and CPEC infrastructure need to be well thought through in the context of floods.
Head of Gender Department NDMA Raheela Saad said that latest census shows that 50 per cent of the population is women and therefore teaching the future generations how to manage water on an individual level, the role of gender and specifically women is essential.
She said that women are also usually the first responders at home – they support the elderly, children and disabled and protect assets and livestock while the men are at work.
We need to formally empower women so that they could successfully take up the role of change agents and primary responders, she added.