–SC directs finance minister to update court regarding dam-related discussion during ECNEC session
ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Tuesday told Finance Minister Asad Umar that the government is “not serious” about the construction of the Nai Gaj Dam.
During the last hearing of the case, a two-judge bench headed by CJP Nisar and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan had summoned Asad Umar, Minister for Energy Omar Ayub Khan and the respective federal secretaries over the delay in the construction of Nai Gaj Dam and regretted that he might not be able to resolve the issue within his tenure. He had further said that the matter will now be stuck with the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC).
As Tuesday’s hearing began, the CJP expressed anger over the absence of the finance minister when the deputy attorney general informed the top judge that Umar “is in a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet”. To which, the CJP said, “We had summoned him; could he not have left the meeting and come? We want our orders to be followed.”
Few hours into the hearing, when the minister appeared before the bench, the top judge addressed him saying: “I don’t think the government is serious about building the Nai Gaj Dam.”
“This issue came to my knowledge when it was presented in ECNEC,” the finance minister explained to the bench. “An application regarding the Nai Gaj Dam was presented in ECNEC on January 14 and we referred it to the cabinet,” he added.
“Then there is no coordination in your government,” Justice Nisar countered, to which Umar did not offer a defence.
“The government means the government and the federation means the federation,” Justice Nisar said as he regretted that the issue is not being resolved as per the court’s desire.
“You folks cannot work,” the judge told the minister. “Your love for this country has diminished. The bureaucracy does not have the passion and intention to work,” the CJP said.
“We do not want to dictate this government. We do not want to run this government either. We have [only] worked on the fundamental rights of the people,” he added. At this, the finance minister acknowledged the chief justice’s work regarding the building of dams, adding that the matter will be discussed during the ECNEC session on January 25.
The bench further directed Umar to keep the court in the loop regarding the discussions taken up during the ECNEC session.
Subsequently, the hearing was adjourned for two weeks.
It merits a mention here that the Supreme Court had accepted for hearing a petition moved through senior counsel Rasheed A Rizvi highlighting hurdles in the way of Nai Gaj Dam’s construction in September 2018.
The completion of the Nai Gaj Dam has been delayed by at least four years and the main reason is said to be insufficient funding for the project.
Nai Gaj Dam is an embankment dam on the hilly torrent of Gaj in the gorge area at the edge of Kirthar Mountains range at about 65 km (40 miles) north-west of Dadu city. The dam’s power station would have a 4.2 MW installed capacity of power generation.