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LAHORE: Former chief justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar says forming an implementation bench of the Supreme Court by him on the construction of Bhasha and Mohmand dams was aimed at guarding the water reservoir project.

“I’m ready to physically sit at the dam construction site if need be. But what I meant by standing guard on the Bhasha and Mohmand dams [fund] was that I formed an implementation bench of which two succeeding chief justices would be the members. Through the judgment [on the dams project] Wapda was bound to submit monthly progress report and seek the court’s help in case of obstacles in the project. Moreover, the verdict declared that the dam fund cannot be used for any other purpose.”

The former top judge was responding to a query from the audience during a session of the three-day Lahore Literary Festival on ‘Securing Pakistan’s Water Future’ here on Friday.

Rina Saeed Khan moderated the session while expert on trans-boundary water sharing Erum Khalid Sattar and former member (water) Wapda Ahmed Khan Bhatti besides Justice Nisar were on the panel.

Answering another question, the former CJP said the basic objective behind creation of the dam fund was to educate the masses about the importance of the issue as well as infusing a spirit among them for working for a national cause and not collecting 100pc financing through donations for the project.

He told a questioner that he had preferred national unity over the construction of the Kalabagh Dam and personally he believed that not a single moment should be wasted if and when a consensus is developed on the controversial water reservoir.

Justice Nisar played down the Indian threat of blocking Pakistan’s water supplies and revoking the Indus Water Treaty saying it’s easier said than done and that international court were there to solve any such issue.

He called for educating the people about worth of water and not wasting it.

Ms Sattar opposed creating a uniform law for the whole country governing water resources as it would be against ground realities of different federating units. She advocated for leaving it up to the provinces to decide on usage of sub-soil and other water resources.

She also stressed on setting up a water centre out of the control of the government in the private sector, preferably by any educational institution, to debate water issues and find their solutions.

Mr Bhatti urged the ex-CJP to work for including foreign experts in the consultation for the Bhasha dam, saying the region was a difficult tract because of being prone to earthquakes and land-sliding and needed utmost care from public safety point of view.

Published in Dawn, February 23rd, 2019