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CJP offended over rescheduling of Mohmand groundbreaking

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Irked over not being intimated of the rescheduling of the Mohmand Dam groundbreaking ceremony, the outgoing Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar told Minister for Water resources Faisal Vawda that he might not attend the ceremony at all.

The CJP was hearing a case regarding the construction of Nai Gaj Dam in interior Sindh on Monday, January 7th. The CJP shared his grievances regarding the rescheduling of the much-awaited groundbreaking ceremony of the Mohmand Dam project from 2nd January to 13th January, in which the CJP was supposed to be the guest of honor.

“You changed the date without informing me; you did not think it was necessary to inform me,” remarked the chief justice. “I might not even attend the [Mohmand Dam] inauguration now.”

“The bidding process started before the current government came into power. Hence handing out a contract to Descon in building the dam is not a conflict of interest,” Hussain clarified.

The top judge told Vawda to tell the prime minister to inaugurate the Mohmand Dam project himself. “Do we not have any role in the construction [of the dam],” asked Justice Nisar, further questioning why the inauguration date was changed without the court’s knowledge.

The CJP criticized the government for not having any substantial role in the project “The government did nothing for the dam project on its own. All it did was to announce that by 2025, the country will face water shortage.”

Vawda offered an apology “on behalf of the government” and urged the chief justice to attend the ceremony when it takes place. The chief justice regretted that the prime minister “was unaware of the issues that were pending”.

Read more: Groundbreaking ceremony of Mohmand Dam to be held next month

Earlier during the hearing, the chief justice said, “The Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) is not in contact with us. WAPDA thinks it has gotten independence and will work as it pleases. The Supreme Court will supervise the construction of the dam, not the Ministry of Water Resources or WAPDA.”

Justice Nisar inquired, “Tell us, when do you want to inaugurate the project and initiate work?” The attorney general responded, “One dam will be built in 2027.” At this, the top judge remarked, “The prime minister said that Pakistan will run out of the water by 2025. It is your government and there is no cooperation between institutions.”

The attorney general then informed the court, “The total estimate of the dam is Rs1, 450 billion.” Justice Nisar then asked, “Did the government ever think where the money for the construction of the dam would come from? We have never said that the dam can be built through funds but that a campaign will start and it has.”

The CJP shared his grievances regarding the rescheduling of the much-awaited groundbreaking ceremony of the Mohmand Dam project from 2nd January to 13th January, in which the CJP was supposed to be the guest of honor. 

Chairman Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) Lieutenant General (retd) Muzammil Hussain on Wednesday, 2nd January, had defended awarding Abdul Razzak Dawood’s company, Descon, the contract of Mohmand dam’s construction.

Dawood is also an Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce, which is the conflict. “The bidding process started before the current government came into power. Hence handing out a contract to Descon in building the dam is not a conflict of interest,” Hussain clarified.

Read more: Kalabagh Dam: A necesaity rather than a luxury

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, Hussain had stated that the bidding was following the Public Procurement and Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules.

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