ISLAMABAD: Stressing the need for building water reservoirs to overcome the acute shortage of irrigation water, the Supreme Court told the government to immediately start work for the construction of Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand dams.
“The need for water reservoirs is not only expedient but also essential for the survival of the people and economy of Pakistan. All those present in the court, including officials of various departments and experts on the subject, are unanimous in this regard. They are also unanimous on the point that according to the decision of the Council of Common Interest (CCI) the Diamer-Bhasha dam and pursuant to the approval of the ECNEC both (this and) and Mohmand dam must be built on an urgent basis by the federal government. In this regard, there is no dispute or discord of any nature amongst the provinces”, the four-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, stated in its order on Wednesday.
CJP says every Pakistani owes Rs57,000
The bench had been formed to hear a petition on the controversial Kalabagh dam.
The SC also formed an oversight panel headed by the chairman WAPDA for the construction of these dams.
The Implementation Committee will also comprise of experts and officials of the federal and KP governments, including (i) the federal Additional Secretary (Budget), Finance Division, (ii) Joint Secretary, Water Resources Division, (iii) Joint Secretary, PM Office (to be nominated by Secretary to the PM), (iv) Senior Chief (Water), Planning Division, Federal Government, (v) Chief Secretary Gilgit-Baltistan, (vi) Senior Member Board of Revenue, KP, (vii) Additional Chief Secretary (Development), KP, (viii) the committee can co-opt any members/ experts.
The court also directed the federal and provincial governments, WAPDA and all executive authorities responsible for the building of the two dams to take necessary steps for immediately commencing the construction and early completion of these dams.
The court asked the committee concerned to submit a comprehensive report in this regard within a period of three weeks.
The bench also appealed to the nation for making contributions, whether in foreign or local currencies, directly to an account opened solely for this purpose.
Funds in the account, operated for the time being under the SC orders, would be utilized solely for the construction and establishment of these dams on the recommendations of the Implementation Committee.
These funds, the court warned, could not in any way be diverted or utilized for any purpose other than the construction of these dams.
Individuals contributing to this fund will be exempt of any scrutiny by all authorities, including the tax officials.
“The utilization of the said funds shall be subject to audit as per directions of this court.”
The order stated that the establishment of water reservoirs was not just a question of quality of life, but it also ensured the continuity of human existence itself, the court stated.
“Therefore, in terms of the provisions of Article 184(3) of the Constitution read with Article 9 and as guardians of the fundamental rights of the people of Pakistan, this court has the jurisdiction to issue necessary directions to the government for the practical enforcement of the primordial right to life.
“Under the provisions of Article 78 … Any funds deposited in the Public Account of the Federation can be dedicated for a specified project or purpose. We, therefore, direct the establishment of an account, for the time being in the name of the Registrar of the Supreme Court, for collecting funds donated by the people for the construction … of the … dams”
Khursheed Shah asks CJP to focus on judicial reforms instead of Kalabagh dam
The court also expected assistance from foreign financial agencies for the construction of the dams.
Commenting on a political leader’s remarks, the CJP said that the Constitution and the nation empowered the apex court in such a way that no one had the courage to defy its order.
He also expressed hope that the people will show the same enthusiasm they had demonstrated during the 1965 war. He also donated Rs1 million in this regard.
According to him, the director-general of FIA was working on repatriating funds amounting to Rs900 billion to the country.
Lamenting that Pakistan was burdened by foreign debts of more than $100 billion, the CJP wondered why no new dam was built over the past 40 years.
During the court proceedings, the chairman WAPDA said that the total estimated cost of Diamer-Bhasha dam was $11 billion.