The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday said the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) can use the funds collected for the construction of water reservoirs in the country whenever it wants, adding that the apex court was only the custodian of the money.
A five-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed, said this while hearing a sou motu case regarding construction of Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand dams.
Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand dams fund was created by former CJP Mian Saqib Nisar, who had also started suo motu proceedings for construction of dams in order to forestall a water crisis in the country.
Resuming hearing of the case on Monday after a gap, the court ordered the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to present details of all the funds collected for the dams in other countries.
The SBP official told the court that if the dam fund was invested in stocks, it could generate more profit but at the same time such investment entailed risks. They said currently the fund is invested in products that are more secure and yet profitable.
They told the court that SBP had written letters to foreign embassies to gather more fund for the purpose from overseas Pakistanis. CJ Ahmed asked the SBP to talk to embassies via phone rather than writing letters.
Justice Ijazul Ahsan, a member of the bench, said if a Pakistani wants to deposit funds from a place where there is no Pakistani bank then in that case the relevant embassy must be aware of the money transferred to Pakistan.
The CJ asked WAPDA to resolve all land disputes in connection with the dams, noting that Usmankhel and Burhankhel tribes had claim over some of the area where Mohmand Dam is to be built. The official told the court that only 32 families are residing on that piece of land. They said in the first phase of dam construction, WAPDA does not need that land.
During the hearing, the additional attorney general told the court that the Central Development Working Party (CDWP) has not yet green-lighted Mohmand Dam.
The CJ noted that WAPDA has already awarded contract for construction on Diamer-Bhasha Dam.
WAPDA’s counsel told the court that construction work on the dam has been started and will complete by July 2028.
Wapda’s counsel told the bench that work on Mohmand Dam was also under way according to the schedule. “The first unit of the dam will become operational in 2024 while its third unit will complete by July 2025. There is no problem with regard to supply of fund for the project,” he said in reply to a query.
The bench later adjourned hearing for six months.