ISLAMABAD - In a major policy shift, the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) on Friday announced its unconditional support for the Kalabagh dam (KBD), terming it imperative for the survival of the country.

Breaking its long silence over the issue, it also welcomed the action taken by the Supreme Court on water issues and KBD calling it a ray of hope at a time when Pakistan has become a water-starved country.

In a joint statement issued here Friday, acting president FPCCI Atif Ikram Sheikh and vice president Karim Aziz Malik said that KBD was proposed six decades ago but it was never implemented due to political controversies.

A technical matter has been transformed into a political matter while the country continues to suffer, they added.

The business leaders said that Pakistan is considered a developing country where problems like power shortage and less availability of water are in dire need to be taken care of which is now realized by the Supreme Court.

Atif Ikram Sheikh and Karim Aziz Malik said that after independence India has constructed 4000 dams whereas Pakistan could manage only 150 dams out of which the major reservoirs of Mangla and Tarbela are dying with a rapid pace.

Pakistan had a water storage capacity for only 30 days of consumption whereas India had water reserves enough for 170 days while we continue to waste 25 million acre-feet of water worth billions of dollars every year because of lack of storages.

Politicians have remained blind to our needs for a long time and now the nation should be united to realise the cheap source of electricity as the unit price of electricity produced by hydropower is half the power produced through solar or wind energy, they added.

The cost of not building KBD and not settling issues between provinces is very high as economy and masses will continue to suffer and natural disasters coupled with power shortages will continue to damage the country.