by Khurshid Anwer
Salman Shah is the lone ranger who is not afraid of speaking up. He said at the pre-budget seminar of the ‘Nation’ in Lahore on Saturday, that Kalabagh dam cannot be built unless the PPP and ANP stop opposing this mega water reservoir project.
He said, the construction of Kalabagh dam on one hand would ensure energy and food security and on the other, it would enable the country to generate employment.
He said, the reservations and fears raised about the dam in Sindh were imaginary and not based on reality, and claimed that the construction of the dam would benefit Sindh the most.
He painted a doomsday scenario of global economic conditions in next five years, predicting that oil prices would rise to $200 per barrel and wheat would be sold at $1,000 per tonne by 2013, which the country could not afford.
He said, Pakistan needs some bold steps and raising new water reservoirs is the boldest step the high-ups of the country should take to handle the future economic situation.
He continued, Kalabagh dam is a project with the potential of producing cheap electricity at Rs1.70 per unit, while we will have sufficient water to bring more land under the plough. Sindh would be the major beneficiary of the water as it could turn it into a food basket.
He concluded that there was dire need of creating more and more job opportunities to reduce poverty in the country and stop urbanization (no wonder Kalabagh dam is called a multipurpose dam – power, water, employment)
On the economy he said, transition to the new government, higher oil prices and excessive bank borrowing has played havoc with the economy, which started a downward journey, capital inflow turned into outflow, cash reserves reduced to an alarming level and resultantly the country dropped into the lap of IMF.
My comment: The question now for the PPP and ANP is to see whether economists like Salman Shah know more about the subject or did Benazir Bhutto and Wali Khan know more about dams and their benefits or otherwise to the country, including their own two provinces. On this hinges the fate of 17 crore people. If status quo pertains, the people responsible will not only be the politicians but more so the educated party followers who should know better but are not prepared to stand up against their ‘revered martyred leader’
It was very pleasing to see at the Punjab Bar Council meeting yesterday, cheque after cheque worth lakhs of rupees from various Bar Councils of Punjab being handed over to the CJP Chaudry Muhammad Iftikhar who narrated that during his visit to the Sukkur Bar Council he had asked for the money to be spent on his reception to be diverted to the IDPs.
Things are looking up.