–Foreign Minister Qureshi says govt will respect reservations of Sindh, Balochistan and KP assemblies over Kalabagh Dam construction
ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly on Tuesday passed a resolution for the construction of new dams in the country.
Speaking on the floor of the House, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said, “The whole nation agrees that we are facing a major water crisis.”
“The country will plunge into darkness if new water reservoirs are not made,” he added.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader further assured, “If Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies oppose the construction of Kalabagh Dam then we will respect their reservations.”
However, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) expressed reservations against the construction of Kalabagh Dam and the party’s MNA Nawab Muhammad Yousuf staged a protest.
“We support the construction of Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand dams but not Kalabagh Dam,” Talpur asserted.
‘COLLECTING FUNDS IS A POSITIVE STEP’:
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Khawaja Asif supported the construction of Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand Dams.
“Collecting funds for the construction of dams is a positive step,” he said, adding that the issue should not be politicised.
Asif continued that the water policy which was signed by all four provinces in April 2018 included the construction of Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand dams. “The agreement clarifies everything regarding the dam,” he added.
“The water policy issue was under consideration since 2013 and was finally resolved in 2018 and the credit for that goes to the PML-N,” Asif added.
Delving into details, Asif said, “Rs150 billion were spent on Bhasha Dam of which Rs122 billion was the cost of land and Rs23 billion were fixed for it annually.”
“The dam will be completed in nine years. However, if you want to speed up its construction then the yearly cost will go up from Rs23 billion to Rs40 billion but it will be completed in the next five to six years,” he continued.
Further, Asif stressed that along with dams, water reservoirs should also be constructed.
Responding to Asif, Shah Mehmood Qureshi said, “There is no confusion regarding the construction of dams. All four provinces signed an agreement in 1991 in this regard and we accept that as well as the agreement mentioned by Asif.”
“An unnecessary discussion has been initiated,” he said, while adding that the viewpoint of all four provinces needs to be respected.
The foreign minister further said, “In the last 40 years, governments came and went but no headway was made.”
“For the first time, the chief justice and prime minister sought help from the nation and for the first time the nation is extending support on such a matter which is why there is no confusion regarding the construction of dams,” he added.
To fight water scarcity in the country, a dam fund was initiated by the Supreme Court to construct Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand dams.
Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar had said that construction of new dams is critical for Pakistan’s survival, promising that he would continue his efforts for the purpose even after his retirement.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has also reiterated the importance of constructing dams in the country, however, he said that the government is unable to make budget allocations for water-related projects because it is already under heavy debt.