- CJP says ‘resolution of water crisis is our highest priority from today’
- Justice Nisar laments political parties’ indifference over matter
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Monday scheduled the hearing of the Kalabagh Dam case for June 9.
The case pertaining to water scarcity and construction of dams was being heard by a three-member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar.
Hearing of all water-related cases will be conducted in SC’s Karachi registry on Saturday, added Justice Nisar and said that “water scarcity is the biggest grief”. Water experts have also been summoned to the hearing by the CJP.
During the proceedings, the CJP said that “the resolution of water crisis would be our highest priority from now onwards”, adding that “I have reopened 32-year-old cases”.
Justice Nisar observed that no political parties in the country have water on their agenda, though no issue is as grave as that pertaining to the supply and accessibility of water.
The chief justice also spoke about the recent issue of Kishenga Dam, saying the Neelum River has started drying up as the dam has been constructed on Jhelum, of which Neelum is the largest tributary.
“It is a water bomb, an issue being considered extremely critical,” the chief justice observed. “What have we done if we cannot [even] ensure supply of water to our children,” he said, promising that he would hear all the cases pertaining to water scarcity and dam construction.
The chief justice said he would hear cases on the water crisis in Karachi on June 9, Lahore on June 10 and then in Islamabad, Peshawar and Quetta.
During Monday’s hearing, the plaintiff maintained that every political party promises the construction of dams before the elections but do not follow through on their promise.
Adding that a referendum chit on Kalabagh Dam with the votes should be made a part of the election process, to which the chief justice remarked that “don’t confuse the elections with the water crisis”.
“Pakistan’s existence depends on water, I’ll do whatever is in my power to resolve the issue,” the CJP remarked.
On September 16, 1991, the Council of Common Interest (CCI) had given a go-ahead to the dam in its sixth session. Interestingly, the then four provinces had approved and shown consent for construction.
In the ninth meeting of the CCI on May 9, 1998, the case was reviewed. Both the sessions were held during ex-prime minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif’s government. Despite the fact that CCI had green light to the project, the case had to go to the court.
Lahore High Court (LHC) ordered federal government on November 29, 2012, to start construction.
In addition to the high courts, the Supreme Court (SC) of Pakistan was also approached in the matter as numerous pleas were filed from time to time. Replies were also sought from the government but Kalabagh Dam remains in ink till date.