JUL 4, 2018: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Wednesday said the judiciary is not involved in the construction of dams anywhere in the world.
Bilawal, 29, who’s contesting elections from two National Assembly constituencies in Sindh for the first time, said “the construction of dams is the responsibility of governments.”
The PPP chairman was reacting to Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar’s order for starting construction of two dams immediately as the country faces impending water crisis — water level in the dams has hit the lowest mark in history.
And with massive water wastage at consumption level (70 pct according to several studies), the growing scarcity of water due to climate change has made the matter reach critical mass, say several experts.
During his briefing, former Wapda chairman Shamsul Mulk said that while 46,000 dams had been constructed in the past century across the globe, Pakistan had only constructed three.
The Chief Justice asked why the government does not want dams to be built, to which the officials of the ministry responded that the underlying issue is that it isn’t the government’s priority.
The top court issued directives that the construction of Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand dams should start immediately, and appealed to the general public, including Pakistanis residing abroad, to donate for the cause.
Following consultation with water experts and senior government officials, the four-judge bench of the Supreme Court (SC) headed by the CJP
ordered the Wapda chairman-led committee to present a report after completing the formalities within three weeks.
The court further directed to open a special account in the apex court for generating funds regarding the construction. CJP Nisar himself donated Rs1 million for the cause.
The bench was hearing the case pertaining to the construction of Kalabagh dam which Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces oppose.
“It was said that ‘even the Supreme Court’s father’ cannot construct dams,” the CJP noted, reminding the naysayers that the Constitution had given the court the power to make it happen.
Justice Nisar hoped “the passion that was seen during the 1965 war [with India] would be visible again for the construction of dams”.
Details of dams revealed in today’s hearing:
Diamer-Bhasha dam: To be built in KP and Gilgit-Baltistan falling in Kohistan and Bhasha areas. Will have the capacity to store 6.4 MAF of water and create 4,500MW electricity.
Mohmand dam: To be built on Swat river in Manda area. Will have the capacity to store 0.68 MAF of water and create 800MW electricity.
“We should have confidence in ourselves,” the CJP said, adding: “It is possible that we get more money than the required amount.” Justice Nisar also disclosed that Rs900 billion “are going to arrive soon” but said that matter should be kept secret for now.
Towards the end of the hearing, Attorney General Khalid Jawed said that the debate around the dams would continue unless the court issues an order for their construction. He added that the bureaucracy needs to brought into action and that the institutions would have to act if the court issues an order.
The court then ordered to immediately begin construction of the two dams.