Fund-raising for dams

SENSITIZING the nation about grave implications of the growing water shortages, Prime Minister Imran Khan, in a broadcast message on Friday, launched an appeal to the people to donate generously to funds aimed at building two mega water reservoirs. He told people that the country can face famine-like conditions by 2025 if no steps were taken for increasing the water storage capacity which currently stands at just 30 days as against the international standard of safe capacity of 120 days.
There is no doubt that we have been guilty of criminal negligence as far as construction of new water reservoirs is concerned. There are about a dozen projects that are there for decades but no worthwhile progress could be achieved towards their implementation mainly because either we politicized them or we failed to arrange the required funding for them. There were times when consensus was possible on all dams but our rulers wasted the opportunity for vested interests and for the sake of prolonging their rule. As for funding is concerned, one can have an idea from the fact that foundation stone of Diamer-Bhasha dam, on which there is consensus also, was laid by then President General Musharraf, then Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani and again by then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif but so far we could only pay land compensation to the affected people. Pakistan is facing funding problems at international level because of Indian objections and laxity of the authorities concerned to market the projects in right perspective. Under these circumstances, credit goes to Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Justice Saqib Nisar for instituting fund for construction of two dams. The CJP is taking extra pains to shore up the fund but the task is enormous. Mindful of the fact that there was not much scope for further increase in domestic contributions as already different institutions, individual philanthropists and government employees have done so, the Prime Minister has rightly focused on overseas Pakistanis. By launching the appeal, Prime Minister Imran Khan has tried to exploit political and social capital of his party and his own personality for a national cause. It is hoped that overseas Pakistanis would come to his expectations and initial reaction from representative bodies of overseas Pakistanis in different regions of the globe is an indication that the appeal would help generate significant resources to kick-start actual work on the two dams.

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