LAHORE - The businessmen, industrialists and farmers on Tuesday demanded the government to review its decision on Kalabagh Dam because shelving of this project is against the national interest. They said that the government announced the decision in haste and only to divert the attention of the public from the important issues. President Lahore Chambers of Commerce and Industry Mohammad Ali Mian asked the federal government to review its decision on Kalabagh Dam as it is not the issue of the Punjab province only rather it belongs to the entire country and its people. The acute shortage of water and power has put the very survival of the country at stake. "Shelving it with one stroke of pen is against the national interests," he said. The LCCI President Mohammad Ali Mian raised this demand while talking to Federal Minister for Water and Power Raja Pervaiz Ashraf during his visit to the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry. LCCI Vice President Shafqat Saeed Piracha, former President Bashir A Baksh and former Senior Vice President Sohail Lashari also spoke on the occasion. While throwing his full weight behind government energy conservation programme, Mohammad Ali Mian said that the energy to be conserved through this programme should be utilized to keep the industrial wheel on the run, as the industrial sector was the biggest victim of power shortage. He urged the Federal Minister to divert its attention towards line losses because it would help the government bridge demand-supply gap. Citing the example of China where more than 70 per cent of electricity is being generated through coal and hydle means, Mohammad Ali Mian stressed upon the Federal Minister to expedite work on alternate energy resources including coal, wind and solar. Speaking on the occasion, the Federal Minister for Water and Power Raja Pervaiz Ashraf termed the shortage of energy as one of the biggest challenges, the nation at the moment is facing. He said that the menace of loadshedding would be bridled by end of August as a contingency plan to cope with the situation has been put in place. The businessmen gave tough time to the minister over the Kalabagh Dam issue who avoided responding to their demand and said that the federation is most important than any dam. The federal minister also did not respond to the queries of the businessmen saying that he is much busy and has very tight-schedule. However, the minister said the government alone could not solve the issue of energy shortage and for this purpose it was in dire need of private sector. He said the private sector should come forward to ensure the success of government's energy conservation programme. He said the government had decided to put the controversial Kalabagh Dam project on hold as controversy over this issue had reached an alarming stage that was threatening the unity of the Federation. The minister hoped that water level would be improved in the reservoirs, which would add 500 MW in addition. He said that next three months would be crucial to resolve power crisis and the nation should bear with the govt over the ongoing power crisis. The minister, while blaming the previous government for ongoing energy crisis, said that no roadmap was given in this regard. He said that the government would ensure the implementation of the decision of closing down of all major commercial centres and shopping plazas at 9 pm from June 1 to help overcome power crisis. He said that these steps are being taken to save power for at least 90 days. The Minister said 1,000MW of electricity would be added to the national grid by way of improvement of generation capacity of the existing powerhouses. He said that construction of Bhasha Dam would start next year besides the completion of Mangla raising project. He said the government is taking steps by adopting rationale mechanism to generate more electricity through private sector. He said the government is also pursuing liberal policy to rebuild the investors' confidence and all possible support will be provided to facilitate them in this respect. The traders on this occasion categorically rejected the government's directions to close down their business before 9:00 pm. "It is injustice as we cannot afford this," they said. The Anjuman-i-Tajiran Association said that if the government wanted to close down the shops and commercial plazas before 9:00 pm then the decision should be implemented in all the markets and no one should be spared. "We cannot tolerate this that the small shopkeepers will be forced to close down their business while the big commercial plazas located in cantonment areas and other posh localities, will be allowed to keep their shops open," said a representative of this association, when contacted. Meanwhile, the Kisan Board Pakistan strongly criticized the federal government for shelving the Kalabagh Dam project and said that it is injustice with the people of Pakistan. President Kisan Board Pakistan Sardar Zafar Hussain said that the decision of shelving the Kalabagh Dam project is shocking because at least Rs 2.5 billion had already been spent on this project, which can produce 4500 MW electricity. He also said that the government should have been taken the provinces into confidence to redress their grievances and reservations instead of imposing its decision in this regard. He also condemned the federal government for shelving the most needed project of Kalabagh Dam. Chairman Industrial and Traders Association Front (PIAF) Mian Abuzar Shad also condemned the government for shelving the most important Kalabagh Dam project without consulting the stakeholders. He said that it is injustice with the people of Pakistan. He further said that Pakistan is already facing worst ever energy crisis and the government has suddenly shelved this important project, which is against the nation interest.