ISLAMABAD - Medical universities, various institutes and colleges of Punjab contributed Rs17 million to Supreme Court for construction of Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand dams.

A delegation of vice chancellors and principals of medical universities, colleges and institutions of Punjab called on Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar at Lahore. The delegation appreciated initiatives of chief justice regarding human rights in general and ending water crisis in particular.

During the meeting, the delegation presented a cheque of Rs16.94 million as contribution to Supreme Court of Pakistan Diamer-Basha and Mohmand Dams Fund. Members of the delegation also made commitment to deposit more funds in future for the sacred national cause. The chief justice expressed his concerns over the issue of water scarcity. He stressed importance of dams for survival of the country and its future generations.

So far, the top court’s Dams Fund could only fetch Rs1.139 billion in its account while estimated amount for construction of a single dam is in hundreds of billions. Majority people have supported interventions of CJP Mian Saqib Nisar in various matters, but the masses have so far shown a lukewarm response to donation for dams under an SC-spearheaded initiative.

It was expected that the public would donate generously to construct Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand dams. An estimated $12 billion is required for a portion of these two dams. A section of lawyers has appreciated the top court’s initiative to meet water needs of the country. However, another section of the lawyers believes that both the dams were not new to the country and the former government had already allocated funds for the dams under Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP). They argue that an amount of Rs23 billion and Rs2 billion had already been allocated for Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand dams, respectively by the PML-N government in the PSDP 2018-19.

Prime Minister Imran Khan in his first address to the nation had appreciated the initiative of chief justice Mian Saqib Nisar in this regard and had stated that Bhasha Dam must be built as soon as possible and government would also provide funds to construct the dam.

Donations to the top court’s fund can be made at all branches of State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), treasury offices and branches of National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) as well as other banks including micro finance banks. Such donations can be made in the form of cash, cheques, pay orders, demand drafts and prize bonds deposited either at the counters or through online transfers.

Branches of all banks across the country receiving such deposits shall prominently display banners on their entry points stating that donations/contributions are being received in these branches for construction of Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand dams as ordered by the Supreme Court of Pakistan. The SBP has also set up a toll free helpline number for answering queries as well as receiving complaints from anyone interested in making a donation. An IBAN number has also been allocated to facilitate receipt of online donations/contributions in the Fund through internet banking and ATMs.

Persons wishing to make donations through credit/debit cards may do so without any extra charges on payments made through such cards if these are issued domestically. However, payments made through credit/debit cards issued outside Pakistan will be subject to charges (if any) applicable in the respective countries.

Donations/contributions received by banks through debit/credit cards transactions and branchless banking agents shall be settled with the SBP within 48 hours. The SBP shall communicate the amounts received in its account to the registrar of top court on hourly basis through its data acquisition portal.

The Pakistani missions and branches of Pakistani banks abroad shall receive donations/contributions. The routing instructions for remittances from abroad shall be displayed on the websites of the SC as well as the State Bank of Pakistan.

Subscribers of cellular mobile phone companies wishing to make donations may dial short code 8000 which will result in an automatic deduction of Rs10. The amounts so received by the said companies are being transferred on daily basis to the Fund with the State Bank of Pakistan.

The top court has already directed Ministry of Law and Justice in consultation with Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to promulgate an ordinance for making appropriate amendments in different laws including the Income Tax Ordinance to ensure that donations/contributions made to the Fund are not subjected to any taxes or deductions.

The top court directed the ministry of law and justice to introduce such an ordinance which would cater the issues including exemption to any income of Supreme Court’s Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand Dams Fund, exemption to the Fund from minimum tax on turn over under Section 113 of the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001, exemption from withholding tax on payment received by the Fund.

The top court had further ruled that all provincial governments and their respective revenue authorities shall provide appropriate exemptions under their respective laws and if necessary, issue appropriate ordinances. It also ruled that any person making donations/contributions to the Fund shall not be subjected to any inquiry or probe as to the sources of the funds.