With no apparent end to the drama, the Punjab Assembly (PA) proceedings on Friday perhaps set a new precedent by holding the general discussion on irrigation in the absence of the minister concerned and the parliamentary secretary as well, which resulted in the treasury’s failure to give its policy statement to open the discussion.
However, the speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal allowed the leader of the opposition instead to speak over the general discussion on irrigation. The discussion seemed a futile exercise nonetheless, as only 23 members were concerned enough to be present on the floor for the very important discussion.
Objections: Initiating proceedings, the opposition leader urged the government to start work on the construction of big water reservoirs including the Kalabagh Dam (KBD). He suggested the government change the name of the project if anybody had any objections over the name of the Kalabagh Dam.
Chaudhary Zaheer drew the attention of the House towards the absence of the irrigation minister and parliamentary secretary, on which, the speaker informed him that the parliamentary secretary was suffering from fever while the minister had ‘some engagement’.
Zaheer said that Punjab was the heart of Pakistan’s agriculture, as 80 percent of the country’s farming was done in the province. Owing to global warming, he continued, the country had received less rain in the recent past and Pakistan had no water reservoirs to store the floodwater.
In such circumstances, the non-availability of water for agricultural activities in Punjab was a serious issue and needed full attention, he added. Link-canals: Zaheer suggested the government make link-canals to ensure a continuous water supply for the province’s farmers. The only thing the growers need from the government was water and this should be provided through any source, he added.
Zaheer also suggested that the government provide maximum subsidy on electricity for the tube wells. Despite the fact that the floods provided enough water to cater to the entire country’s agricultural needs, all that water was wasted due to the lack of water reservoirs.
Now, the there is no water available for Rabi crops and the wheat crops would be under a grave threat if the situation remained the same, he added. The opposition leader also said it was not too late for the country’s think-tank to evolve a comprehensive policy to redress the grave water crises.