Ground-breaking ceremony of Mohmand Dam

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SWAT (KPK): Prime Minister Imran Khan and former chief justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar attended the groundbreaking ceremony of the Mohmand Dam on Thursday.

Addressing the ceremony, Prime Minister Imran Khanpointed out that the Mangla and Tarbela dams were built during the 60s when Pakistan was progressing rapidly. Over time, he said, the country had stopped progressing and was facing a huge debt.

The prime minister said that the reason dams were not built in Pakistan was because they cannot be built within five years and, therefore, politicians did not focus on the issue. He said that even though former president Ayub Khan was a military dictator, he should be commended for “thinking in the long term” and building dams.

He further said that the reason behind the development of China was that they had planned 20 years ahead. “They don’t care about the elections,” he said.

He regretted that politicians had ignored tribal areas and Balochistan because they couldn’t get votes from these areas.

He thanked former chief justice Mian Saqib Nisar for taking up the initiative to highlight the importance of dams even though the “matter should have been raised by the country’s prime minister”.

Former chief justice Nisar also addressed the ceremony and highlighted the nation’s generous contribution towards the dam fund. Emphasising the importance of building dams, he said: “Water is our life.”

“The Supreme Court hasn’t done a favour to anyone [since it initiated the dam fund]. It [the dam] has become a campaign and a movement,” he said.

“I am hopeful, because of the manner in which you worked and the will and resolve with which the chairman Wapda worked, that the dam will be completed within the stipulated time and budget,” he asserted.

Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, Federal Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Dr. Noorul Haq Qadri, Governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Shah Farman and Chief Minister Mahmood Khan were also present on the occasion.

Federal Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda was the first to address the ceremony. He thanked Prime Minister Imran for instilling confidence in and encouraging his team. He also thanked the retired chief justice, the army chief and the Water and Power Development Authority chairman for their hand in the efforts towards the building of the dam.

The Mohmand Dam is being constructed on the Swat River and it will be completed at a cost of Rs183 billion by 2024. The dam has the capacity to store 1.2 million acre feet of water. Upon completion, it will generate some 800MW of electricity.

The construction of the dam is said to be imperative to resolve the problems of water scarcity and electricity shortfall in the country. A sum of Rs2bn has been allocated for the project in the Public Sector Development Programme 2018-19.