LAHORE - Both the treasury and opposition benches in the Punjab Assembly have termed the construction of Kalabagh Dam as necessary, but not at the cost of country’s solidarity.

Welcoming the visiting delegation from Sindh Assembly, Law Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan said that Kalabagh Dam was necessary but national consensus and solidarity of the country was more important.

During the proceedings on Wednesday, Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal welcomed the delegation in the gallery. Rana Sanaullah Khan said that Punjab was in favour of Kalabagh Dam as it was necessary not only for agriculture and power generation but also for saving the people from the havocs of floods. He said that Sindh feared water shortage for agricultural purposes. He said that the PA had passed three resolutions, stressing the federal government to build national consensus for the construction of much needed Kalabagh Dam.

Referring to the meeting between the delegation and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, he said the Sindh legislators had openly talked about different issues including Kalabagh Dam and their talks reflected sincerity for the country. He said the CM has made it clear to the visiting delegation that Punjab was against construction of Kalabagh Dam without national consensus.

He expressed hope the visiting delegation would convey the viewpoint of Punjab to the Sindhi brethren. He also thanked PILDAT for facilitating the visit of the delegation, saying such interaction between the people from different federating units would help developing consensus on the issues of national importance including terrorism.

Sibtain Khan welcomed the delegation on behalf of the Opposition and said that such visits would help understand each other. He said that PILDAT has taken a positive initiative and said such steps should have been taken by Punjab as an elder brother. He said, “We are Pakistanis first and then Punjabis, Sindhis, Balochs and Pakhtoons.” He said that issues like Kalabagh Dam should be resolved by building national consensus and addressing the grievances of Sindhi brethren.

The House rejected the two amendments the Opposition proposed in the Punjab Police Order (Amendment) Bill 2013. The Bill will be presented before the House for approval after debate on the remaining proposed amendments on Thursday (today).

Taking part in the debate, the Opposition legislators suggested circulation of the bill for eliciting public opinion and its referral to a House committee for further deliberation before approval. Expressing dissatisfaction on the performance of Police, they were of the view the government should avoid carrying out legislation in haste without taking opinion of the public at large.

Dr Wasim Akhtar said that Police have failed to protect public life and property, and crimes are on the rise in the province. He said that Police was patronising outlaws instead of maintaining law and order, and providing security to the masses. Shenila Ruth said that now Police is a symbol of terror for the masses. Sadia Sohail Rana said that no one is safe in the province and dacoits are looting the people in broad daylight.

During question and answer sessions, the absence of the Provincial Minister for Irrigation Department caused a serious problem for Minister of Planning and Development Department Malik Tanvir Aslam who instead of satisfying the House requested the chair to putt off maximum queries till the next sessions.

The proceedings started two hours behind its scheduled time at 12:00 am. As the proceeding started, Opposition leader Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed, on a point of order, said that the Punjab government had stopped export of wheat to Khyber Pakhtunkhwah.

Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal asked him to file an adjournment motion through which the provincial government would be asked regarding the issue. The speaker also took serious notice on the use of cell phones during the proceedings and warned the members of serious action against the violation.

During the questions and answers sessions, Malik Tanvir Aslam said total 55 dams were functioning in the province. He said the feasibility report of 7 more dams in Phothohar area of Rawalpindi Division has been prepared and its details have been presented before the House. The minister said the provincial government is fully empowered for the construction of small dams and 18 different sites have been visited for the purpose.

A treasury member asked him that if the de-siltation of canals was on the expenses of the government and if was so then how much fund was allocated for the purpose during year 2011-12, the minister said the government allocated Rs165.350 for the said period. However, he said the provincial government had no specific fund for the de-siltation of canals.

Later, Dr Wasim Akhtar presented an adjournment motion on the flooded-hit areas. He pointed out that the people-hit are not in a position to pay taxes, water-cess and electricity bills. He requested the House to pass his adjournment motion and exempt the affected people from paying taxes and electricity bills. The Chair appreciated his suggestion and took it under consideration.

Mian Muhammad Aslam Iqbal moved an adjournment motion, requesting the House to pass a compensation for a poor family which had lost its sole bread earner in an accident. The Law Minister said the family should file a complaint with his recommendations to the CM and assured the matter would be solved.