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Supreme Court orders immediate release of funds for construction of Nai Gaj dam

March 05, 2019

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Justice Gulzar Ahmed expresses displeasure at Sindh government's "lack of intention" to build the dam. — Dawn Newspaper/ File
Justice Gulzar Ahmed expresses displeasure at Sindh government's "lack of intention" to build the dam. — Dawn Newspaper/ File

The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Tuesday ordered the federal and provincial governments to release the funds required for construction of the Nai Gaj Dam.

A three-judge bench, headed by Justice Gulzar Ahmed, took up a petition moved through senior counsel Rasheed A. Razvi highlighting hurdles in the way of Nai Gaj Dam’s construction.

The petition highlights that construction of the dam is blocking the inflow of a huge quantity of fresh water to Manchar lake. For improving the situation, Wapda has proposed 50 cusecs of continued piped water supply to the lake from the dam.

The petition seeks a directive for the government to provide early funds for completion of the project as well as consider increasing up to 100 cusecs fresh water flows from the dam to Manchar lake.

In today's hearing, the court ordered the federal and the Sindh government to provide the Water and Power Development Authority the funds required for the dam's construction.

The planning division and the Sindh water board secretary were also ordered to provide the court reports regarding the provision of funds.

"Do they [the government] not remember what happened in the 2010 floods? All the flood water had collected in the Nai Gaj area," Justice Ahmed recalled. "All the rain fall in Sindh will also go to waste."

"The Sindh government does not intend to work at all; they don't want [development] work to happen in the province.

"Funds are allocated for the Nai Gaj Dam every year and that money is then wasted. The matter has been going on for 30 years," lamented the Supreme Court judge.

Upon this, the deputy attorney general said that the federal government is ready to provide its share of the funds for the project; the Sindh government, he said, has not given a response.

"Do the Sindh and federal government not have any contact?" Justice Ahmed asked

"Matters of public interest are shifted to each others' shoulders [by the federal and provincial governments]. What is the Sindh government's problem?" he said. The judge then ordered the release of the funds so that construction could start and adjourned the hearing for a month.

Nai Gaj is a hill torrent which emanates from Khuzdar district of Balochistan and after passing through plains of Kutch it eventually enters Manchar lake. The Nai Gaj area remains dry for eight months and gets water in four months during monsoon season. After Manchar lake attains its peak level and no more remains in a position to receive water in monsoon season, water flows from Nai Gaj often devastate flood-protection bunds and inundate agricultural lands.

After inundating agricultural lands and devastating houses and standing crops, the monsoon water falls into the sea and, as such, a huge amount of water is wasted, the petition says.

Apart from serving as continuous flow of fresh water to Manchar lake, which will improve the ecology of the lake, the Nai Gaj dam will also serve as a lifeline for the people of this mountainous region in Dadu district with the potential of changing their socio-economic conditions.