ISLAMABAD - Supreme Court Monday expressed magnanimity and welcomed Prime Minister Imran Khan’s request of joining the court’s initiative regarding Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand dams.

The SC has granted permission to change the title of Dams’ Fund, which will onwards be written as Supreme Court of Pakistan-Prime Minister of Pakistan Diamer-Bhasha Dam Fund.

Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar while heading a four-judge bench also revealed that Prime Minister Imran Khan had sought his permission for passing statement on dams before his address to the nation on television. He, however, said that Khan had sought his permission, not the bench’s.

In the first week of September, Prime Minister Imran Khan in his recorded speech to the nation had appreciated the top court’s initiative and appealed to the overseas Pakistanis to contribute for building new dams. “I responded that the SC has no ego-issue if he (the premier) joins us”, the chief justice said.

The 4-judge bench was hearing the case regarding change in title of dams’ funds.  “This court has no issue with change of title on account of Prime Minister’s speech with intent to join the SC regarding dams”, observed the chief justice, adding that the premier had stature.

However, Justice Ijazul Ahsan observed that the top court was committed to supervise the accounts and funds of the dams.

Meanwhile, the SC also issued notices to federal government, Wapda, Sindh and Balochistan governments and the Planning Commission. The notices were issued on an application filed by Advocate Rasheed Rizvi seeking the top court’s intervention for releasing funds for Nai Gaj Dam Project. The top court also directed the respondents to file concise statements in this regard.

The bench ruled that Rizvi’s application will be treated as a separate petition under Article 184 (3). A petition was filed in 2010 complaining contamination of Manchar Lake which resulted into destruction of agriculture lands, fishes and immigrant birds. In the petition, another miscellaneous application was filed on May 4, 2011 whereby fresh proceedings were initiated and notices were issued to the federal government, Wapda and the provincial government.

It is pertinent to note that none of the federal and Sindh governments appeared to be serious in resolving the issues of resolving flow of contaminated water in Manchar Lake, the application stated.

It is submitted that top court in its September 17, 2015 order had given a clear direction to the Secretary Planning Commission as well as Chairman Wapda to complete Nai Gaj Dam within a period of two years. “However, even after passage of more than 2 years, the requisite funds have not been provided and the Nai Gaj Dam Project has not been started as yet. The Planning Commission and Wapda are not serious in complying with the court direction, which is evident from working paper for annual plan coordination committee Part-II and proposed PSDP 2017-18. Planning Commission, Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform has allocated an amount of Rs1,500 million for the year 2017-18 for Nai Gaj Dam Project. It is submitted that it will take more than 2 decades for completion of Nai Gaj Dam Project if the fund is provided at Rs1,500 million per year”.

It contended that non-compliance of the aforesaid direction as well as undertaking given by the Chairman Wapda was wilful and a deliberate act, as the federal government has allocated huge amounts to other similar projects.

“Planning Commission, Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform has allocated an amount of Rs10 billion for 2017-18 for Kachchi Canal Project (Phase-I) Dera Bugti, Naseerabad, so there is no justification for allocating a meagre amount for Nai Gaj Dam; although a very specific direction has been given by SC to the federal government for completion of this project within a period of 2 years”.

Gaj is a hill torrent that emanates from Khuzdar District of Balochistan and after passing through plains of Kutch, eventually enters Manchar Lake.

Nai Gaj area remains dry for 8 months and gets water in 4 months during monsoon season. Nai Gaj flows often devastate flood retentions and inundate agricultural lands when Manchar Lake is not in a position to receive flows after attaining peak level in monsoon season.  Monsoon water after inundating agricultural lands and devastating houses and standing crops fall into sea and, as such, huge amount of water is wasted.

“Apart from serving as continuous flow of fresh water to Manchar Lake, which will improve the ecology of the Lake, the Nai Gaj Dam will also serve as a lifeline for people of this mountainous region, that lies in Dadu, with potential of changing socio-economic conditions of the people”, it added.

Therefore, the petition argued, non-compliance of the direction of SC to complete the Nai Gaj Project within 2 years is a heinous criminal act on the part of the Planning Commission and Wapda, the application concluded.