KARACHI, Dec 29: Sindh Minister for Irrigation and Power Nadir Akmal Leghari on Thursday supported construction of dams on Indus River but stressed the need for giving priority to Bhasha dam, although he was not averse to the Kalabagh dam without canals and constitutional guarantees.

In a statement faxed from the office of the additional secretary to the chief minister of Sindh, Mr Leghari said: ”I, as a Sindhi, and the custodian of the Irrigation Department, very strongly feel that the salvation of Sindh lies in supporting storage dams on the Indus, and if we take a rational view, we will realize that these dams have to be built and should have been built long time ago. “We do not wish to play politics on this issue and at the same time, we respect the views of our friends who feel diffident in supporting this issue, but keeping in mind the A. N. G. Abbasi report, and specially Engr Abbasi’s personal view which supports dams on the Indus with the prefix that Bhasha Dam be taken up first, we should consider raising Bhasha Dam first.” Never before in the history of Pakistan, the issues affecting the aspiration and future of the country had been discussed so openly and at all levels, he said. The president’s initiative in this regard should be appreciated, he added.

Mr Leghari was of the view that water shortage was a reality and water needs to be stored for use for meeting the shortage in order to avoid Sindh going barren and desegregated. “We need to have a treasure of this natural resource, but there is no way this can be done, except building dams at the sites where it can be stored to the maximum benefit. And if permissible, this water should be utilized for generating power, etc.,” he said.

He stated: “When we leave it up to technocrats and irrigation experts to deliberate upon the technicalities of the site, we support the president’s vision of constructing dams. The two reports by international experts and the people who command respect are now available to the public. The Sindh government should not comment on it and it is for the people to digest the findings of these reports.”

In deference to this report, the irrigation department believes that it must support the construction of Bhasha Dam and other dams on the Indus. It is now time to rise to the occasion and demand that:

i) Bhasha Dam be started immediately

ii) We have serious reservations over Kalabagh Dam which needs to be addressed viz

a) Kalabagh should have no canals

b) The 1991 Water Accord be implemented forthwith

c) Constitutional, judicial and administrative guarantees, acceptable to the people of Sindh, be given on this issue.

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