CJP says Kalabagh Dam ‘inevitable’ | Pakistan Today

CJP says Kalabagh Dam ‘inevitable’

  • Chief Justice Nisar suggests formation of team to resolve water crisis
  • Ex-WAPDA chairman says Pakistan losing billions because of non-construction of dams

ISLAMABAD: Even though the previous governments have failed to evolve a consensus over the construction of Kalabagh Dam, the chief justice of Pakistan, Mian Saqib Nisar, on Wednesday said that the construction of the dam was inevitable.

A three-member bench headed by the top judge resumed hearing in a case pertaining to the construction of the dam.

Over the course of the hearing, Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) ex-chairman Shamsul Mulk presented arguments in favour of the dam, saying Pakistan is losing billions due to the absence of dams.

Explaining the benefits, he cited China generating around 30,000 megawatts of electricity from dams. “Even India has more than 4,000 dams,” he said. “We lose billions due to the non-construction of dams.”

“Nation needs you,” CJP Nisar replied to ex-chairman Mulk as he expressed dismay over the failure of previous governments to evolve a strategy in this regard. He said, “The construction of dams was imperative for the country’s survival. All of the four provinces should come together and make sacrifices for the construction of dams,” he said.

“All four provinces will benefit from the construction of new dams. It is not about Kalabagh dam, it is about Pakistan,” he remarked.

Presenting his arguments, the former WAPDA chairman said that those who oppose dam fear Punjab might steal their share. However, he said, they too have accepted my stance, he added.

Chief Justice Nisar then asked about the measures that should be taken to solve the country’s water issue.

Barrister Aitezaz Ahsan, amicus curiae in the case, remarked that talks should be held with the opponents of the dam. To this, the chief justice responded that dams which are not controversial should be prioritised.

He further said the judiciary won’t rest until a solution to the water crisis is presented, adding that nothing had been done in the past 10 years to address the issue.

The top judge remarked that Quetta and areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were already facing water shortage. “I am thinking of halting judicial matter to plan a water seminar instead,” said Justice Nisar.

Shortly after, the CJP addressed a seminar on Water Crisis and Construction of Dams. “It is the duty of the Supreme Court to enforce fundamental rights. We will take the dams issue seriously,” he said.

The top judge observed that a team of experts needs to be constituted. Imtiaz Qazalbash, the former WAPDA chief engineer, responded that multiple teams, not one, need to be formed for the issue.

The ex-engineer claimed further said that dams were not constructed due to corruption, and instead thermal power stations were installed. “Nawaz Sharif-led government set up thermal plants on three hundred per cent higher prices,” he alleged.

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