LAHORE - The government and the PTI-led opposition in Punjab Assembly Thursday agreed to make joint efforts to build consensus for construction of the most controversial project in Pakistan’s history, the Kalabagh Dam, in the larger public interest.

After heated debate on the issue during the question-hour, Punjab Assembly Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal has invited nominees of both government and the opposition parties in his Chamber on Friday (today) to formulate a mechanism to contact parliamentarians in other assemblies for evolving consensus on the matter.

Earlier after the start of question-hour, the opposition members pointed out flaws in the existing formula of water distribution within Punjab and among the provinces and demanded its renewal on emergency basis.

Jamat-i-Islami parliamentary leader Dr Waseem Akhtar said Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf and his party had soft stance over the construction of KBD. Opposition leader Mian Mehmood Rasheed said the project was vital for country’s survival and reservations of the stakeholders needed to be addressed.

The opposition leader further said his party was ready to take up the issue with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government but consensus at national level was most important.

PPP leader Dr Faiza Malik, however, said it was the job of the federal government to do the needful instead of the provincial governments.

Punjab Assembly Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal said construction of KBD was important and the matter could be sorted out through discussion.

The speaker announced the names of Mian Mehmood-ur-Rasheed, Malik Nadeem Kamran, Dr Waseem Akhtar, Mian Naseer and Salahuddin Khan Niazi, representing both the opposition and the treasury benches who would be meeting him in his chamber on Friday (today) to work out modalities to further advance the discussion on KBD.

On the queries put by house members, Irrigation Minister Yawar Zaman failed to come up with satisfactory answers. To a question, he said the government did not start any project of constructing dams in Chaulastan area but had built 55 small dams in upper Punjab region.

Amjad Ali of PTI complained that the residents of PP-86 (Chak 439) were not being supplied irrigation water for the last 22 years and now they had started migration from the area. The minister replied that water was being supplied to the area but there might be some other problems. The questioner rejected minster’s plea, saying as a matter of fact the water was being sold to the rich.

To another question raised by Asif Bajwa advocate of PML-N that strict legislation was needed to check water theft, the minister said such legislation did not come under the jurisdiction of provincial government as it was a federal subject.