Kala Bagh Dam’s construction only through national consensus: PA


The Punjab government on Wednesday came up with an official policy statement about the Kala Bagh Dam (KBD) when Provincial Law Minister Rana Sanaullah ensured the other provinces on behalf of the government that the latter wanted to construct the KBD but not at the cost of Pakistan’s sovereignty. Hence efforts to evolve national consensus through negotiations on the dam needed to be formulated.
During the Punjab Assembly (PA) session, Sanaullah gave this assurance to other stakeholders while he was welcoming the visiting delegation of Sindh Assembly legislators at the PA Visitors Gallery.
In his welcome address to the 17-member delegation headed by Fiaz Ahmed, Sanaullah said that although the government considered the KBD vital to boost the country’s water production as well as power generating resources, it was not more valuable than Pakistan. The PA had already passed three resolutions in favour of the construction of the dam but national consensus was termed a must for the process, he added.
There are two points of view on the issue of the KBD which include declaring it vital for the conservation of water. The other opinion is entirely different. The Punjab government is of the view to have a broad-based discussion and evolve national consensus on it as the dam’s construction is extremely necessary for the country.
Sanaullah appreciated the PILDAT’s initiative to arrange the delegation’s visit.
Briefing the PA about the visiting delegation’s business, Sana said that the delegation meet with Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif in the morning and discussed the apprehensions of the Sindhi’s which included the latter having less water available for cultivation which would cause Sindh’s economy to suffer a lot.
From the opposition benches, Sabtain Khan also welcomed the delegation and said that such visits were very important for provincial harmony and for establishing a working relationship among the provinces.
Furthermore, he said that we (the opposition) endorsed Sanaullah’s statement that a consensus must be evolved among the provinces and then work on the KBD project could be started.
Opposition member Dr Waseem also welcomed the delegation and appreciated PILDAT’s initiative.
Earlier, the PA’s session started an hour and 55 minutes later than its scheduled time at11:55am under the chair of Speaker Rana Iqbal.
Opposition Leader Mahmood-ur-Rashid said that the Punjab government had refused to sell wheat to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) where Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was in power. He said that the KP government wanted to purchase 400,000 tons of wheat from Punjab to prevent a possible wheat shortage in the province, but the latter was not selling them the commodity. He said that on one side Punjab wanted to export surplus wheat, but on the other, it was not providing the commodity to KP.
He suggested that Punjab had always played the role of an elder brother and should continue to do so. Upon this, the speaker suggested the opposition to bring an adjournment motion over the issue. Moreover, he offered them to come to his chamber where the speaker would also call the food minister for a detailed discussion on the issue.
Wednesday’s question hour was with respect to the Irrigation Department. Irrigation Minister Malik Tanvir Aslam answered his colleagues’ queries and told the PA that there were 55 dams in the province and the Small Dams Organisation had prepared a feasibility report on seven dams in Rawalpindi’s Potohar region, adding that the initial survey for 18 dams had been completed. Responding to a question, he said that electricity generation from these dams was the government’s responsibility and not his department’s. However, if the government wanted to execute a power generation project there, this could be done, he added.
On a question about the construction of a dam at Bahawalpur’s River Sutlej, he told the PA that the dam’s proposal was not feasible as the silt quantity in the area was extremely high, and not suitable for a dam.
Health Minister Khalil Tahir Sindhu informed the lawmakers about different adjournment motions already adopted by the PA. Answering one of these motions about the Greater Thal Canal Project, he said the project was facing a fund shortage so the government would gradually terminate the contracts of 600 employees.
The 2013 Punjab Police Order (Amendment) Bill was tabled for consideration. The PA rejected two oppositional amendments while one was accepted. The discussion on the bill will continue today (Thursday).