LAHORE: The Punjab assembly passed a resolution on Tuesday recommending to the federal government to try to develop a consensus among the federating units for the ‘earliest’ construction of Kalabagh dam.
“This house recommends to the federal government that as experts say that the Kalabagh dam is feasible and beneficial for entire Pakistan, therefore, it should start its efforts for developing a consensus among all the four provinces for its earliest construction,” says the resolution tabled by Leader of Opposition Chaudhry Zaheeruddin.
It was adopted unanimously because no legislator of the Pakistan People’s Party was present in the house at the time.
PPP parliamentary leader and Punjab’s Senior Minister Raja Riaz, however, told Dawn that the resolution had been tabled with his consent and it contained nothing against the party policy.
The resolution is bound to generate another round of controversy in the country over the issue and already leaders of nationalist parties and the Awami National Party have severely criticised it.
They pointed out that provincial assemblies of Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan had adopted several resolutions against the dam.
In the Punjab assembly on Tuesday, Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Rana Sanaullah suggested formation of a house committee led by Chaudhry Zaheer with Raja Riaz and Finance Minister Tanvir Ashraf Kaira as members to visit all the provinces for developing the consensus over the dam.
Shying away from the responsibility, the leader of opposition said the real purpose of the resolution was to urge the federal government to take necessary steps for the project because millions of acre feet of water was flowing into the sea in the absence of reservoirs.
He said if the law minister wanted him to lobby for the project at the centre, he (Sana) should get him (Zaheer) an office in the federal set-up.
Chaudhry Zaheer said there had been misconceptions about the dam that adversely affected the project and politicised it to the disadvantage of the nation.
One of them, he said, was that the Bhasha dam should be built first, ignoring the fact that four smaller rivers of the region were downstream of the proposed site for the dam.
Speaker Rana Iqbal Khan declined the law minister’s suggestion for forming a house committee for evolving a consensus among the provinces.