LHC order: Allay apprehensions and build the Kalabagh dam

Published: November 29, 2012
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The Council of Common Interests had cleared the project in 1991 and 1998, while a technical committee gave it a green signal in 2005. PHOTO: EXPRESS/FILE

The Council of Common Interests had cleared the project in 1991 and 1998, while a technical committee gave it a green signal in 2005. PHOTO: EXPRESS/FILE

LAHORE / KARACHI: The Kalabagh dam issue has split the country for over  two decades. The split re-emerged on Thursday as Lahore High Court Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial ordered the federal government to allay apprehensions of all stake holders and build the controversial dam.

Chief Justice Bandial directed the government to fulfill its responsibilities under Article 154 of the Constitution given the Council of Common Interest (CCI) has twice approved construction of the project.

While disposing of a number of petitions on the matter, the chief justice held, “In the circumstances and for detailed reasons to follow, the Federal government is directed that in the performance of its duty under Article 154 of the Constitution, it shall in letter and spirit take steps that implement the decisions of the CCI dated September 16, 1991 and May 9, 1998 regarding Kalabagh Dam.”

“Bona fide steps by the Federal government in the foregoing behalf are necessary so that the fate of the project is not sealed on the basis of presumptions and surmises when in the light of the material on record the project is admittedly feasible both technically and economically,” the court  noted.

It further directed the government to allay apprehensions of different political groups and provinces on the matter. “It is therefore directed that whilst implementing the afore-noted CCI decisions the federal government shall faithfully strive to explore and devise an administrative framework and safeguards that allay the apprehensions, political or otherwise nurtured by concerned quarters about the Kalabagh Dam project.”

The chief justice urged the government to expedite the construction process of the dam. “The foregoing steps shall be taken expeditiously by the Federal government with a resolve to comply the provisions of Article 154 of the Constitution by effectuating the will of the CCI as expressed or by seeking further guidance and direction therefrom if need arises.”

CCI twice cleared project

The court had earlier called for records of meeting minutes of the CCI on the construction of Kalabagh dam. In reply, a senior CCI secretary of the ministry of inter-provincial coordination on Thursday informed that two decisions had been taken by the CCI regarding the Kalabagh Dam project.

The first of these was on September 16, 1991 when express approval for construction of Kalabagh Dam multipurpose project was given.

Later on May 9, 1998 the CCI re-visited the project when the Natural Water Resources Development Program (NWRDP) headed by the ministry of water and power was directed to prepare for detractors a document explaining the issues involved in the construction of Kalabagh Dam and addressing political and technical concerns about it. It was also directed that supplementary projects in support of the Kalabagh Dam be prepared to mitigate its effect.

The chief justice remarked that neither the said decisions nor the project have thereafter received much attention of the federal government. Petitioners counsel said that a technical study undertaken in 2004 by representatives of all four provinces further endorsed and approved the feasibility for Kalabagh Dam.

“The Constitution of Pakistan confers a pre-eminent position to the CCI to formulate and regulate policies for the Federation in relation to a number of subjects including Water and Power. A decision of the CCI has obligatory effect unless the same is modified by Parliament at the instance of the federal government under Article 154(7) of the Constitution,” chief justice Bandial observed.

“In the present day of shortage of available electric power in the national grid, scarcity and depletion of irrigation water resource for arable land in the country and the frequent occurrence of floods in the Indus riverine basin has adversely affected the quality and security of life of the citizen in the Province of Punjab and the country as a whole. The resulting degradation in the quality and conditions of life of the affected citizen violates their fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 9 and 25 of the Constitution.”

Judicial Activism Panel chairman Muhammad Azhar Siddique, advocate Syed Feroze Shah Gillani and others had filed the petitions for construction of this dam. They had argued that despite an agreement being signed by chief ministers of the four provinces at the CCI in 1991, no move had been made to construct the dam.

They added that technical objections raised over the project had been cleared when a technical committee on water resources gave the project a green light on April 11, 2005.

National consensus must for dam

As the decision was broadcast over the airwaves, reactions from various sections of the political establishment started to pour in.

Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif, who’s province has pushed for the construction of the dam, said that a national consensus on the issue was must.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf too echoed the sentiment saying that while it respected the judgment, and recognised the need for new reservoirs, consensus was necessary over the matter. “However, it believes that the construction of Kalabagh Dam should only be undertaken after a broad national consensus. According to the party, if the people of all the provinces are not taken on board and their consent not obtained for new water reservoirs particularly Kalabagh Dam, it would lead to unhappiness and unrest. The nation at this juncture cannot afford that,” a party statement read.

Provinces have already rejected dam: Sindh

Sindh, which has long opposed the Kalabagh dam, reiterated that the dam deeply splits public opinion and faces more opposition than takers.

Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP-P) leader and acting Sindh Governor Nisar Ahmed Khuhro expressed his fear that the LHC’s decision on the dam will fuel infighting among the provinces.

In a statement issued here on Thursday he opined that the impact of the judgment “will not only destroy unity among the people of Pakistan but also pave way for dictatorships in the country.”

He added that the three provincial assemblies had already unanimously rejected the controversial project, and the chapter of the Kalabagh Dam was closed. This was echoed by the Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Memon. “Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa assemblies had unanimously passed resolutions rejecting this project,” said Memon in a statement.

Khuhro urged the Supreme Court to set aside the LHC’s judgment in larger interest of the country. He also asked the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Chief Mian Nawaz Sharif to get a resolution passed against the Kalabagh Dam project.

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Reader Comments (34)

  • Zeeshan
    Nov 29, 2012 - 10:08PM

    What a shame. Normally governments do such things but where governments are interested in looting only, courts have to do that.

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  • Lala Gee
    Nov 29, 2012 - 10:14PM

    The Kalabagh Dam is absolutely viable, technically and financially, project prepared after 20 years long studies by the Pakistani and International engineering consultants. The problem is that it was politicized by the politicians for their own vested interests, ignoring the benefits to the country and the common man. It is astonishing that all the three opposing provinces have objections building a dam at the Kalabagh site, but have no problem building a dam 50 miles upstream on the same river. That is why the Quaid was so against provincialism as he knew the consequences of mean provincial prejudices on the development of the country.

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  • A J Khan
    Nov 29, 2012 - 10:16PM

    This is a bad decision. It will not be implemented as Pakhtunkhwa Province will not displace its people and destroy its agriculture land. seeing the past history of Lahore High Court, justice was not expected. We knew that the Judges will ride on the band wagon of Punjabi Nationalists.
    Anyway it may have put smiles on the faces of some Punjabi Nationalists but this decision will not be honored for right reasons.

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  • Vampire
    Nov 29, 2012 - 10:17PM

    Although building DAM is in interest of Pakistan (Strategically) but in long-term it is not actually a real solution as there are numerous Eco-System Costs which a country pays and you cannot just keep building DAMs for Electricity Requirements, Electricity is a By-Product of the DAM, we must realize that DAM’s main purpose is Hydro-Reserves.

    World Must unite on this front and do something about Electricity requirements of the countries and come up with a technology to power-up the world without hurting the Fragile Eco-System, Polluting the Air or creating a potential Nuclear-Hazard.Recommend

  • Nov 29, 2012 - 10:18PM

    Dam it or Damn it but please do once and don’t split already divided nation.

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  • Cynical
    Nov 29, 2012 - 10:27PM

    Yea that’s the way Mr. Nisar Khuhro! Let’s go more backward. Let the country suffer more from floods. Let loadshedding continue. Let’s remove that blissful future.

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  • Kamran Naqvi
    Nov 29, 2012 - 10:31PM

    While India, China and Afghanistan have been building numerous dams, whereas internal bickering prevails on dams in Pakistan. It seems logical that those lobbies opposing construction of dam in Pakistan are financed by Anti-Pakistan forces.
    They should be exposed by the independent media!!

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  • Hasan
    Nov 29, 2012 - 10:32PM

    Kalabagh dam is a potential environment disaster that will completely destroy the river, downstream ecosystem and destroy the entire system including livelihood of millions. Hundreds and thousands will be permanently displaced adding to the problem of IDP. billions of dollars will be looted through corruption. This project is done to please the shrewed chinese who are using us as a colony. Sincerely hope this project is nipped in the bud and we look for alternative source of clean energy like solar and wind.

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  • idreeskamal
    Nov 29, 2012 - 10:33PM

    When CCI approved Kalabagh Dam, Both time Mian Nawaz Sharif was Prime Minister.

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  • Liberal Sindhi
    Nov 29, 2012 - 10:40PM

    If you build Kalabagh then you will have

    No Sindh

    No Sindhi coal

    No Sindhi seaports

    No Sindhi oil

    No Sindhi gas

    No Sindhi roads

    Now decide if you want the above mentioned or you want Kalabagh?

    Best regards,
    A “new” Sindhi formerly a Muhajir

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  • Nov 29, 2012 - 10:50PM

    Kalabagh Dam Issue: Many people and specially in Punjab has been mislead and believe that if Kalabagh Dam will be built all the electricity Problems will be solved. I would like to share my knowledge of the issue which is based on research of the issue with the intention of finding the reasons. Dams are of two Types. Rservoir (To store the water) and Hydel Power Dam (To generate Electricity). Kalabagh dam would basically a Reservoir but would have the capability to generate 3000 MW Electricity also.As Pakistan faces a peak shortage of 5000 MW so the dam can reduce the gap. Punjab and Punjabis have been insisting on the construction of the Dam and support their contention with the report of Technical experts. YES DAM IS FEASIBLE AND NATURALLY EXPERTS RECOMMEND IT. But they ignore to probe the reason of the objections and try to force their opinion. OR BULDOZE THEIR OPINION. KPK Objections: Main Objection of KPK is related with constitution. Pakistan Constitution guarantees that a Province where electricity will be generated will get the Royality. The Hydel Generators will be in Punjab and thus Punjab is supposed to get the Royality according to the Constitution of Pakistan. But KPK feels that as the lake will dislocate Millions of Pashtuns in Charsada while KPK will not get any thing. THE POINT SEEMS TO BE GENUINE. KPK quotes the case of Mangla. Where the Kshmiris suffered because of the lake but Punjab get the Royality. Sind has Objections against the reservoir. Sind is apprehensive that if the Pujab will have the capacity to store water it can always divert the water and use the SINDH QUOTA alos as had happened once. Political parties have also used the matter to misleed the masses and increase their Value. Over a period of time the Issue has become Politically charged and incase the Dam is built with out the consensus of other Provinces it can cause a major harm to national Unity. Punjabis always thinking that they are the most patriotic and Pro Pakistan but no Government in Punjab has agreed to fore Go its Constitutional right and has always tried to Buldoze the objections of other Provinces by using the technical experts report. Now Many Punjabis complain against Musharaf that he did not Build Kalabagh dam. Musharaf was the only leader who tried to create national Consensus and addressed many rallies in Sindh regarding Kalabagh Dam and even Arbab Rahim (Chief Minister of Sindh) issued a statement for Kalabagh dam. But as Today Musharaf is being victimized in Bugti case, Benazir case (which even an Idiot would understand are WRONG CASES) Then If Musharaf could have started Kalabagh Dam and there could have been an Uprising against Punjab and Pakistan. Then HOW MANY PUNJABIS WOULD HAVE STOOD WITH MUSHARAF? I know now all would reply ALL. But in fact Punjabis are people who change and even do not accept the Truth. Now the solution: People should forget Kalabagh dam and because of weak Governments no body will be able to take chances of building kalabagh dam. So there are two sites where Huge Hydel Power Plans can be Built generating much more electricity than Kalabagh dam. Dasu Near Chilas (having a capacity of 4500 MW) and Panjeri Near Gilgit Up Stream (8500 MG). Though investment in Transmission lines will be high but by building these two Hydel Power Dams Pakistan can take care of its Next 15 Years Needs.

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  • Sajjad Hussain
    Nov 29, 2012 - 10:55PM

    Judges living in fools’ paradise

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  • Khawar
    Nov 29, 2012 - 11:04PM

    Those who are criticising should come up with an alternate source of water/electricity for a common Pakistani.Recommend

  • Blithe
    Nov 29, 2012 - 11:17PM

    @Liberal Sindhi:
    Your provincial mindset is sickening .

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  • imme
    Nov 29, 2012 - 11:18PM

    As someone above said that KPK resists because it feels that punjab will enjoy the royalty while the KPK land will be submerged but i just wonder the KPK is having his eyes set on royalty from Basha dam even though the land that will come under water belongs to GB .As the matter of building the consensus he thinks that dams should be built in GB .Seems like that GB is a place where a crooks from down plain do what ever they wana do .You have already planned to drowned the whole of Chilas and still you want to submerge the rest of GB .So messing space with your stupid opinions .GB is not a colony nor its part of pakistan as per Constitution so therefore if you are really patriotic then learn to give scarf-ices rather then consuming space for illogical and baiseful opinions.

    The message from people of GB should be clear No more Dams . If you love your land then we love ours . The price of dams we will pay with the climate change .So therefore for those three provinces and Punjab the humble request is Stop messing with us .

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  • Khan
    Nov 29, 2012 - 11:40PM

    Kalabagh dam is utmost necessary for development of Southern KP,Punjab. Those who are interested in the uplift of Southern Punjab should support the court verdict. PPP, MQM and ANP who are pleading on one hand partition of Punjab for the uplift of Southern Punjab and opposing this mega project meant for development Southern Punjab.

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  • True picture
    Nov 29, 2012 - 11:43PM

    Ok don’t build Kala Bagh dam, fine. But then what about the destruction which has been caused by floods in recent times in Punjab & specially in Sindh? what about billions of rupees worth of damage to crops, infrastructure & livestock from flooding? what about those poor people who are still displaced in Sindh from flooding last year? & what about all that wasted water that goes into Arabian see & not used for winter crops or for hydro electricity? Oh maybe Kala Bagh caused all that destruction in Sindh & Punjab? FYI more flooding will happen since monsoons are getting really bad with change in climate. I hope some sense prevails amongst us Pakistanis, God bless Pakistan.

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  • WB
    Nov 29, 2012 - 11:59PM

    @Liberal Sindhi: Yes, and no target killings, no bathta, and no Zardari. Good, can hardly wait!

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  • WB
    Nov 29, 2012 - 11:59PM

    With this stance, PPP is dead in Punjab!

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  • babag55
    Nov 30, 2012 - 12:00AM

    @Liberal Sindhi & Haroon:

    All I read is Sindhi and Punjabi. It’s sickening. Why it can not be Pakistani. May God help you people.

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  • Seraiki
    Nov 30, 2012 - 12:53AM

    We Seraikis want Kalabagh dam. On this matter we stand with Punjabis. Our Seraiki belt need this dam. It is the matter of out survival. Alas our Pakhtun, Baloch and Sindhi brothers dont want to see us seraikis prosper one bit.

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  • Ayaz Soomro
    Nov 30, 2012 - 1:01AM

    Kalabagh Dam will never be constructed, i think this is only Govt attempt to get people’s focus on other critical issues . . .

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  • Saleem Shaikh
    Nov 30, 2012 - 1:05AM

    Shame on LHC’s decision, which will again devide the nationRecommend

  • jibran
    Nov 30, 2012 - 1:10AM

    And why do we object to India building dam upstream exactly? Why Sindh’s apprehensions not similar?

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  • shahid
    Nov 30, 2012 - 2:21AM

    Build Multiple small water reservoirs and spend money in solar poer and airturbines which can solve energy problems for ever

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  • Nov 30, 2012 - 2:37AM

    These development decisions powers should be taken away from our illiterate and corrupt politicians. These are the jobs of experienced planning engineers to decide what is feasible for the country. What does a B.A pass and Madrasa educated politician know about civil engineering and planning. Generally speaking all civil engineers I came across are in favor of the development of Kalabagh Dam project, even there is Facebook page comprised entirely of civil engineer in favor of Kalabagh Dam. These politicians are busy selling their own favorite tonic which which only leads to hurdles in major development projects in Pakistan. Recently I saw Sharmela Farooqi and an ANP leader bluntly debating against Kalabagh Dam and Punjab, without knowing the facts of the root cause problems of Singh and NWFP.

    Only a technically capable person should be allowed to have reservations on such major development projects. Reservations should be taken as a challenge and engineers should be consulted to solve the problem. Every problem has its solution but arrogantly refusing a certain project is not beneficial for Pakistan.

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  • WB
    Nov 30, 2012 - 3:16AM

    @jibran: Because Sindh is still part of Pakistan, and last time I checked we fought 3 wars with India!

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  • WB
    Nov 30, 2012 - 3:18AM

    It is a shame that PPP and ANP would rather see their people drown every year and the whole of nation sit in the dark, than building a dam that will benefit all of Pakistan!

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  • Hilal Ahmad
    Nov 30, 2012 - 9:19AM

    In all the above discussion it is now clear that only Punjab is Pakistan:). Forget about dams, i am asking about Sugar Price decision, CNG decision???????????? Same will be with KalaBagh Dam. don’t worry Sindi and Pukhtoons. Punjab already lost East Pakistan due to its own interest. it is not 60s, 70s or 80s when only Punjab was Pakistan. This is 21 Century. every one aware.

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  • Imran Ali
    Nov 30, 2012 - 1:16PM

    A big NO. .Kalabagh dam is dead horse, that governments keep playing with to cash public emotion! I wonder why this same controversial issue of Kalabagh dam keep coming up all the time despite the fact that so many years have passed and this idea hasn’t been materialized and apprehensions are here to stay! Why can’t governments focus on other feasible small dams which are way too eco-friendly and i am sure must be very productive too in changing quality of life! State officials should show some sense now at least, 65 years are enough!

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  • amanat
    Nov 30, 2012 - 6:09PM

    Kala Bagh Dam is absolutely essential for the existence of Pakistan Its construction shuld be started immediately without wasig further time. If it had been built eaelier present loadingshedding would not have been in Pakistan. Those who are opposing its construction are not doing any service of the country. They are neither engineers nor technical personnel. Do’nt care for them. They are agents of the enemy.

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  • Lt Col Imtiaz Alam(retd)
    Nov 30, 2012 - 10:32PM

    @Liberal Sindhi: After a few years you will have no water. Goof on Hoof if you do not conserve the Water where will you get it from. At the moment all is going into the Sea. We have our Dams & will suffice. If you build the Dam you will get cheap Electricity & Water for your various crops during the season. All Drama by the Politicians to line their pockets & fool the Public to get votes. Are you one of them. The Educated illiterate.
    Even if 10000 people are relocated the Country will benefit. 18 Crores will benefit. Where will Punjab hide all this water.
    Every year the water which flows down the Indus is getting less due to Ecological changes. Not enough snow to melt.

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  • amanat
    Dec 1, 2012 - 7:06PM

    @Lt Col Imtiaz Alam(retd):
    I fully endorse your views. Whatever you have said is 100% correct. Construction of Kalabagh Dam should be started immediately without caring its opponents They are agents of the enemy who does not want that Pakistan should prosper. Do’nt they see that the country has been plunged in the darkness due to acute shortage of electricity. Whar have they done during the past many years except plundering the country and building their own empires?Shame on them. People of Pakistan will not now allow anybody to play with their destiny.Only a handful selfish people are opposing the construction of Kalabagh Dam. They are mistaken. A referendum can be held in this regard which will decide that Kalabghdam is or is not in the interest of the country..

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  • Lt Col Imtiaz Alam(retd)
    Dec 2, 2012 - 5:26PM

    @amanat: An excellent idea to hold a referendum. We need to bring about awareness among the ignorant masses through the Media & otherwise.

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