Social activist announces hunger strike for constitutional amendment, says Article 161 blocking construction of mega dams in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: A social and political activist Raja Jahangir Akhtar on wednesday announced token hunger strike for one week from Nov 26 here at Super Market to press for an amendment in the Constitution which will pave way for construction of mega dams in Pakistan settling energy crisis.

The veteran activist says that clause 2 of the Article 161 of the Constitution says that profit of a dam will be given to the province in which the powerhouse of the dam is located.

Article 161 Natural Gas and hydro-electric power says, “The net profits earned by the federal government, or any undertaking established or administered by the federal government from the bulk generation of power at a hydro-electric station shall be paid to the province, area or disputed territory in which the hydro-electric station is situated”.

This is discriminatory as powerhouse occupies a small piece of land while the province or area giving millions of acres of land for catchment would not get anything, he said. He said the Constitutional clause has become biggest hurdle in construction of mega reservoirs which are imperative for survival of the country.

Giving example, he said Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa (KP) would get nothing for sacrificing land for Kalabagh dam (KBD) as its powerhouse would be located in Mianwali, Punjab.

Similarly, the AJK and Pothohar has sacrificed land for Mangla dam but profit is being bagged by AJK as the power house is located there, he added. Dispute between Gilgit-Baltistan and KPK over profit of Basha Dam is because of the same clause, he said.

He said the issues can be resolved through an amendment which allows profit of any dam to the province which sacrifices huge tracts of land and not the province which gives a small piece of land for the power station otherwise country will turn into desert.

He said he has prepared Twenty-First Amendment Act 2014, which says, “The net profits earned by the federal government, or any undertaking established or administered by the federal government from the bulk generation of power at a hydro-electric station shall be paid to the provinces, territories, or areas etc., as the case may be, proportionately according to area covered by water reservoir of such hydro-electric station after deduction of production cost and other expanses.”

He asked Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, leader of the opposition Khurshid Shah and PTI Chief Imran Khan to present amendment bill in the National Assembly in the larger national interest within one week otherwise he will start hunger strike unto death.

Masses and different political parties will never accept construction of mega reservoirs unless the equitable and fair distribution of net profits earned from the generation of electricity through hydro-power. “I hope that the three national leaders would accept my demand so that I can end my hunger strike,” the 72-year-old activist said.

He added that six million people have not voted for Imran in the election for protests but for legislation which he and his party continue to ignore while taking all benefits from the government. He said the affectees of Mangla Dam upraising in Pothohar should be given compensation equal to those given to the affectees of AJK.

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