Pakistan’s water crisis is intensified by trouble in attracting funding from international sources for their hydropower project. Pakistan’s PM along with the top court judges are supporting a fundraising campaign to built hydropower dams in various regions of Pakistan, but so far have not been very successful.
In 2018, Mian Saqib Nisar, then the chief justice of Pakistan, donated Rs1 million ($7,400) of his own money to start the drive called “water shortages a major national threat”. The drive intended to raise an unbelievable 14 billion dollars to bear the cost of installing water reservoirs and other equipment for two major dams.
After Justice Nisar retirement in January, the current panel of top judges has taken over the push. Calling the drive as inappropriate and doomed to fail, some politicians from opposition parties have dismissed the effort. “Building of dams is not the responsibility of the court, said Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari”, chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party.
The Supreme Court of Pakistan’s website said: “But efforts to request donations from as far away as the United States and Britain, especially from Pakistani immigrants, have raised $70 million as of mid-February towards the `Chief Justice Dam Fund’”. Prime Minister Imran Khan has already extended support for this effort.
Pakistan is facing water scarcity and the country may face shortages by 2025 if dams are not built, PM Khan warned in his address to the nation in September. He also requested Pakistanis living overseas to donate in order to boost the fight against water scarcity. “Pakistanis, do take part in this jihad”, the prime minister urged.
Justice Nisar has said: “he took up the country’s water worries as a personal campaign after Syed Mehar Ali, commissioner of the country’s Indus Waters Treaty, testified in a court hearing last July about worsening water scarcity risks in Pakistan. While the commissioner for Indus Waters Treaty said: “Pakistan needs to store 25 MAF of water each year to help shore up water security”.
Building dams are difficult, an effort to build a large-scale hydropower dam in Gilgit-Baltistan had affected multinational funding. The proposed Diamer Bhasha is facing opposition from some environmental groups and dozens of farmers. Muzammal Hussain, chairman of the Water and Power Development Authority, said that work on the Daimer Bhasha dam, which has the capacity of more than 9 MAF of water is expected to begin by May.
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