LAHORE – Pakistan is facing worst crisis of water and electricity and if there are differences among the provinces on the construction of Kala Bagh Dam (KBD), the federal government should raise the issue in the Council of Common Interests (CCI) and address their concerns, remarked Chief Justice Lahore High Court Umar Ata Bandial on Friday.

The court granted another opportunity to the federal government to submit its reply on a petition, seeking directions for the construction of KBD to overcome the prevailing electricity crisis. The court adjourned hearing till August 30.

Advocate Syed Feroze Shah Gillani filed the petition and stated that former caretaker chief minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Wapda ex-chairman Shamsul Mulk said on Oct 9, 2010 that the KBD was not an issue of Punjab alone but a matter of the country’s survival that was at stake due to fast depleting water resources.

The petitioner said Khyber Pakhtunkhwa suffered the most due to delay in construction of the KBD as the province would continue to be deprived of additional water even after completion of Basha Dam because it would be 50 feet below DI Khan, where 800,000 acres of available agricultural land could not be irrigated economically.

He said if KBD was built, water would be available for vast tracts of land in the province at affordable price because the water level would be high enough to irrigate the farms.

He said the purpose of CCI was to iron out differences, problems and irritants between the provinces and the provinces and Federation.

Therefore, directives be issued to the government that a meeting of CCI be convened in accordance with law to decide and control the KBD project.

During the previous hearing, the Water and Power Development Authority had submitted a report in the LHC and said the objections and apprehensions of three provinces against construction of Kalabagh Dam were baseless and based on lack of information and hearsay knowledge.

However, the provincial assemblies of NWFP (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Balochistan and Sindh had passed unanimous resolutions against the construction of Kala Bagh Dam in December 1988, October 1994 and June 1994 respectively.