Supreme Court wants PEMRA to issue a clarification on incorrect reports about dam funds

File photo: AFP

The Supreme Court sought proposals from the State Bank of Pakistan in connection with the investment of money collected in the dam funds.

A five-judge SC bench, headed by Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh, heard the sou motu case regarding the construction of the Diamer Bhasha and Mohmand dams on Wednesday.

Justice Sheikh and Pakistan Electronic Media Regulation Authority Chairperson Muhammed Saleem spoke on the media reports about the spending of the dam fund. The judge said incorrect reports are being aired by the media that the dam’s donations are being spent on advertisements.

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“It is understandable if construction of dams is opposed from across the border,” Justice Sheikh said. “But the opposition exists on this side of the border as well. People just blurt out whatever they can.” The court directed the Pemra authorities to issue a clarification on its website regarding incorrect reporting.

Wapda submitted a report on the construction of the dams during the hearing. Acquisition of 844 acres of land has been completed, Wapda’s counsel, Saad Rasool, told the court.

Related: Work on the Mohmand dam will begin in the first week of January: Faisal Vawda

The apex court rejected the report on the investment with the donations collected in the dam fund. The court ordered a report on other sources of investment besides treasury bonds.

Federal Board of Revenue Chairperson Jahanzeb Khan underlined the need for legislation to impose a dam tax on mobile phone and water sources. The court ordered the attorney-general to seek instructions from the federal government over the water tax.

Related: At this rate, Imran Khan will take 120 years to fund the dam

The court summoned the SBP governor to the next hearing and adjourned the proceedings till the first week of April.

Last year, Prime Minister Imran Khan and former chief justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar established separate funds for the construction of Diamer Bhasha and Mohmand dams as part of efforts to preempt the water crisis imminent in 2025.

The former CJP called water shortage a major national threat and donated Rs1 million of his own money to start the dam-building drive. He also accepted donations for the dams during his visit to Britain.

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