MPs of 3 smaller provinces oppose Kalabagh Dam
29 January, 2014
ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly (NA) on Tuesday saw elected representatives of three smaller provinces vociferously opposing the construction of Kalabagh Dam, and said favouring such controversial projects was tantamount to developing cracks in the federation.
On the private-member day, the NA debate – initiated under a resolution of PPP MNA Belum Hasnian to discuss the issue of construction of dams by India on the waters of Pakistan – degenerated into a heated debate over controversial Kalabagh Dam when Jamshed Dasti, an independent MNA from Punjab, accused his opponents of working against the national interest.
The remarks of Dasti evoked sharp criticism from members of the House from Sindh, Balochistan and KP who rising above the party affiliations vowed to oppose it at all cost.
The ANP's Amir Haider Khan Hoti remarked, "Why Kalabagh Dam has been considered the first and last option to resolve the water issues of the country?"
He noted that when alternate options are available "then why is there need to touch the controversial projects like Kalabagh which has been opposed by assemblies of three smaller provinces through unanimous resolutions".
"The supporters of Kalabagh Dam can have their opinion. However, the best option is to go for non-controversial ones," he stressed.
Aftab Khan Sherpao vowed to block the construction of Kalabagh Dam and said that smaller provinces would not allow it to be constructed.
"If one big province is bent upon raising this issue, the cracks in the federation are imminent," he said.
"When the controversial project has been rejected by three provinces, what is the need to raise this issue again and again?"
He suggested the government should focus on Bhasha, Munda and Kurram Tungi dams and take measures for water conservation.
PPP MNA Nawab Yousaf Talpur said he is ready to accept any title by the supporters of Kalabagh Dam for the rights of Sindh, and felt that as Pakistan has the water rights being at the lower riparian versus India, Sindh too has the advantage on the same ground.
PML-N MNA Marvi Memon suggested that "we should not jump into the controversial projects and Kalabagh Dam has been technically rejected by the three provinces rather than on political ground".
Earlier, Dasti said the successive governments did not pay attention to developing water resources. He also stressed that politics should not be done on the issue of water.
"Millions of cusecs of water is wasted in sea and floods wreck havoc in the country and people lose their lives and livelihoods," he added.
He said Kalabagh Dam should be built as it would not reduce water for Sindh province and those who were opposing construction of dams are not favouring the best interest of the country.
Before indulging into the debate on Kalabagh Dam, legislators emphasised upon the government to vigorously defend Pakistan's water rights at rivers as India continues to build dams.
Earlier, two separate bills seeking amendments to articles 51 and 106 of the constitution were moved.
The House also took up a bill seeking amendment to Pakistan Penal Code, 1860, and the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898.