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ISLAMABAD: A National Assembly panel headed by SAPM on CDA, Ali Nawaz Awan on Thursday requested the federal government to include Chirah Dam in Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP), as the Punjab government has not shown any interest in its construction even after the passage of four decades.

The meeting of National Assembly panel comprising Khalid Magsi, Naureen Farooq Ibrahim and Nuzhat Pathan was convened to look into the implementation status of the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Water Resources regarding Chirah Dam and Naulong Dam.

The proposed dam, which was conceived in 1980, is to be built on the Soan River near Chirah Village, about 25kms away from Murree. It was expected to provide over 15 million gallons of water per day (MGD) to the twin cities (Rawalpindi and Islamabad).

Last week, the issue of Chirah Dam also came under discussion in the National Assembly Standing Committee on Water Resources when Ali Nawaz Awan argued that Punjab government was doing nothing to build that dam. He said Rawalpindi and Islamabad were facing water shortage but Punjab Government did not want to work on Chirah Dam. He suggested that the dam be included in the PSDP 2021-22. However, the officials of the Ministry of Water Resources informed the committee that Punjab government had not sent any paper work to include that dam in the proposed PSDP for 2021-22, adding it would be possible to include it in the PSDP after Annual Plan Coordination Committee (APCC) finalised PSDP for 2021-22.

Punjab Minister for Irrigation Mohsin Leghari stated that the feasibility study of Chirah Dam had not been completed, adding it was a dam not just a wall.

In 2005, Rupees 5 billion Project Concept (PC-1) was prepared and the Punjab Government had obtained approval for a PC-1 from the National Economic Council (Ecnec) Executive Committee in 2009, but construction work did not commence. On Naulong Dam in Balochistan, the panel decided that the revised PC-I of the project must be approved by Ecnec to include it in PSDP 2021-22. It was also decided that construction of Naulong Dam be initiated before December 31, 2021.

This dam is an embankment dam on the Mula River, about 30km from Gandawah City in Jhal Magsi (Balochistan). Its initial cost was Rs 28.5 billion and was awarded to Descon Engineering Limited.

The panel also decided to convene a meeting on opening of Rawal Dam for general public on June 14, 2021 as Punjab Government is reluctant to open it for public due to security risk. This issue is also being discussed for the last several months by the Sub-Committee on Water Resources but there has been no headway in this regard so far. SAPM on CDA, Ali Nawaz Awan maintained that it was the right of the general public of twin cities to visit the dam and the park.

The panel decided to summon all the concerned departments of federal as well as Punjab government to take an informed decision. The officials of Punjab Government took the stance that IG Police (Punjab) had not allowed them to open the dam. The panel decided to also invite IG (P) for a briefing as Islamabad administration claimed that there was no threat to the dam site.

It has not yet been decided to allow boating and commercial fishing in the Rawal Dam though individual fishing has been allowed. The panel decided to invite the concerned officials for a briefing on it.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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