ISLAMABAD   -  Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar on Wednesday assured all the provinces that no disputed dam would be constructed.

He also ensured that reservations of all the provinces would be addressed and consensus would be developed for construction of any reservoir.

The Chief justice, however, observed that shortage of drinking and irrigation water had created restlessness in the public at large due to the failure of government to make dams for the purpose of storage of water.

The Chief Justice made these observations at a consultative meeting, which was held to prepare a National Workshop or Conference to evaluate the severity of the water shortage and to recommend remedial measures for the same including construction of new dams.

The consultative meeting was held on the directions of chief justice which were issued after hearing of the case related to construction of dams earlier in the day. 

The meeting was chaired by Chief Justice of Pakistan/Chairman LJCP and convened by Secretary LJCP Dr Muhammad Raheem Awan.

The meeting was attended by the former chairman WAPDA Dr Shamsul Mulk, representatives of Ministry of Energy, Ministry of Climate Change, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Ministry of Water Resource, Federal Flood Commission, National Energy Efficiency & Conservation Authority (NEECA) and others.

During the meeting, the participants acknowledged that since last forty years no dam or reservoir has been constructed in the country which has put the country in drastic situation.

They also said that no water policy could be regularised at national level and people were dying due to non-availability of water in remote areas of the country.

All the participants agreed to complete the construction of the Bhasha Dam on war footing, moreover it was resolved to construct Kala Bagh Dam, with the consensus of the provinces on priority basis.

The Chief Justice desired all the participants to share proposals to initiate the construction of dams and reservoirs to address the issue of water in the country immediately.

The meeting also resolved that wastage of water should be strictly discouraged and new water transmission lines may be installed.

The participants and experts showed confidence in the chief justice and requested to constitute a Committee/ Task Force for appointing consultants for validating construction/design of the dams. The said committee would also monitor the progress of the projects. It was also resolved that integrated water resource is the only solution in the country which may include industrial treated water, safe drinkable water and other water resources available in the country. 

It was also agreed that administrative actions towards untreated sewerage water be taken for the industry and housing societies.

Earlier in the day, a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Faisal Arab and Justice Munir Akhter took up the petitions related to construction of dams for hearing.

During the hearing, former Chairman Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) Shamsul Mulk told the bench that he came across with almost every opponent of Kalabagh Dam and they expressed distrust in Punjab.

He said that water distribution to the provinces from Tarbela Dam was according to a settled formula whereby Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) share was 4 per cent, Sindh’s share was 70 per cent, Baluchistan’s share was 6 per cent and Punjab’s share was 20 per cent.

He added that Sindh had more representation in IRSA than the other provinces. He also said that he had given a briefing on the issue to Awami National Party (ANP) afterwards its leaders told him to convince Wali Khan.

Chief Justice questioned as whether Pakistan could survive without water and what will be the position after five years in case the dams not constructed.  “I am not trying to scare the people of Pakistan and people of Quetta but what I have learnt from the briefings of representatives and political leaders during my visit there, Quetta is drying because acquafier is drying speedily,” chief justice observed.

Mulk added that 86 per cent of water comes in river in form of flood. He said that around 0.5 million acre of land was dried in KP and its people say water was not their requirement.

When Aitzaz Ahsan said three provincial assemblies had passed resolutions in opposition of Kalabagh Dam, chief justice responded that he was saying about Pakistan Dam for which the four brothers (four provinces) will have to develop consensus.

Chief justice, however, pointed out the issue of monetary support for construction of any dam stating that every infant born was under debt of Rs117000 because of the people remained in power.

Mulk said that at least 22 thousand dams had been constructed in China which generated at least 30 thousand megawatt electricity while India had constructed 4500 dams. He said Pakistan suffering loss of around Rs196 billion due to absence of Kalabagh Dam adding that electricity could have been provided at the cost of Rs1.5 per unit after its construction.

Mulk added that the world was constructing dams and here wife of Wali Khan told him that even if it was gold the ANP was not the buyer. 

Chief justice however questioned as how to proceed in this regard and how to initiate adding, “we will have to collect the experts.” Chief justice asked his focal person Advocate Aitzaz Ahsan and Mulk to assist on the issue. “It is inevitable for existence of Pakistan we must have reservoirs,” he observed. 

“The Dam has to be constructed, I don’t know whether it will be constructed in my life or not but it has to be constructed with consensus and Supreme Court would be the first contributory in this cause,” chief justice further observed.

A former official of WAPDA Imtiaz Qazalbash told the bench that the impression of not having any plans was wrong but element of corruption restrained the construction of dams.

He said that during military regime of Gen Ziaul Haq, a General namely Fazal-e-Raziq took over WAPDA and looted the Authority.

He suggested that if there was no consensus on Kalabagh Dam, the other eight dams including Bhasha, Dasu and Munda could be constructed. The bench after directing for consultative meeting adjourned the hearing for date-in-office.

 

SYED SABEEHUL HUSSNAIN