13 December 2003 Saturday 18 Shawwal 1424
Mega water projects and Sindh
One of the salient features of the good governance, as espoused by the government, should be to listen to the citizens of the country without any bent or bias. Can the government claim that it has followed this principle to solve the water issue, which affects the lives of the tens of millions of people?
No one could have missed the fact that the people of Sindh have been protesting against mega water projects, including the Greater Thal Canal and the proposed construction of large dams.
It was expected that the government would tackle the highly controversial water issue in a transparent way, in accordance with the Constitution and the agreements reached between the provinces. But the government, bypassing the Constitution (Article 155), has announced formation of two committees to 'solve' the matter.
Apart from the legal status of the two committees, there are a couple of basic matters that are of paramount importance: the composition of the committees and the directives of the president, which actually render the committees ineffective and useless.
One of the two members taken from Sindh on the technical committee has no experience whatsoever in the fields of water and agriculture. His only qualification is that during the president's Aug 25 meeting on the water issue in Karachi, he was the only person who had supported the Kalabagh Dam. The other member is a government servant and is bound to obey the official guidelines.
One of the two members from Sindh on the parliamentary committee is the person who has openly supported the government position on the dams. The other member is a brother of the chief minister, who is engaged in an uphill struggle to save his position. Who would expect this member to speak against the wishes of the general who can change the government in Sindh with a wink?
This member has shown his 'interest' in the issue by not attending the meetings of the committee. Perhaps he is doing a favour to the people of Sindh by not attending the meetings as he may cause more harm by attending them.
One is at loss to understand why no one has been taken from Sindh to represent the views of the majority of the people expressed through recent provincial assembly resolutions and the protest marches held throughout the province, while highly competent people have been taken from other provinces that will fight their cases with all their abilities? Why has Sindh been denied the same privilege?
Then come the president's directives to the two committees as carried out by all the major newspapers. The committees have virtually been handed over the decision. All they have to do is to put a seal to it!
Isn't it another attempt by the government to hoodwink the people instead of handling an important issue in an honest and forthright manner? Isn't it a sheer waste of the time and resources of the country too?
Corpus Christi, TX, USA