A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and encompassing Justice Umer Ata Bandyal and Justice Ijazul Ahsan, heard a suo moto case in regards to non-compliance with the apex court order on development of Daducha and Papeen Dams to overcome the issue of arising water crisis in Rawalpindi.
CEO of Bahria Town Malik Riaz on Thursday, 2nd August, 2018 communicated his eagerness to develop the Daducha Dam with the condition that there will be no obstruction from administration or bureaucracy of the Punjab government. He said global experts could be procured for the development of the dam and he is willing to pay the expenses.
Brief History of proposed Daducha Dam
In March 2014, Former chief engineering DHA Islamabad Lt. Col. M Tariq Kamal (Retired) requested acting Chief Justice Pakistan, Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, to observe the construction on the site held for a dam to satisfy the future needs of individuals of Rawalpindi. He raised concerns that the land was acquired by power developers of DHA and Bahria Town along with Habib Rafique (Pvt). to start a joint venture by the name of DHA valley, through colluding with concerned authorities and hence government functionaries are mummed.
He explained that some foreign experts like Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) indicated that Rawal Dam is to complete its life soon while the requirement of Rawalpindi is expected to touch 80 million gallon per day in the next twenty years. Keeping these facts in view, In 2001, the dam was proposed by the Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA) and the SDO in the town of Daducha.
Consequently, Punjab government allocated funds for Daducha Dam and Dachucha Dam was expected to provide 25 million gallon water to the Rawalpindi on daily basis for next 50 years. However, the plan is not materialized yet. Lt. Col. M Tariq Kamal further suggested involving Malik Riaz of Bahria town in the matter and be asked to build Daducha Dam.
Latest Happenings in the courtroom
During the hearing of a case regarding farmhouses in the federal capital, the court the other day inquired Barrister Aitizaz Ahsan, counsel of one of the owners of farmhouses, as to which dam was not yet built in Rawalpindi despite the court verdict. On this Aitizaz Ahsan informed the court that it was the Daducha Dam.
The court at that point ordered the administration of Punjab to come up with a comprehensive report till August 2, 2018. Accordingly, Aitizaz Ahsan showed up under the watchful eye of the court alongside the petitioner of said matter. Answering a question Malik Riaz clarified the court that 20 percent land of the dam site belongs to Bahria Town.
Aitizaz Ahsan submitted that they had demarcated the site for the construction of the said dam other than Site 1 which the government had allocated for the purpose. On August 4, 2015, the Supreme Court took up the matter and gave verdict against Bahria Town, directing the Punjab government to construct the dam at the originally proposed site.
Soon after the apex court orders, the government froze the sale and purchase of land in the area and developers filed a review petition which is still pending before the court. Regarding that Aitizaz Ahsan requested that a larger bench should be constituted to hear their case. Malik Riaz further proposed that Bahria town can construct the Dam within one year if the court allows them to acquire the land on condition that bureaucracy does not interfere.
CJP directed Aitizaz Ahsan to formally submit a written proposal and the court will consider that without prejudice. Later on the court has considered the proposal of Malik Riaz and issued notice to respondent Punjab government for not complying with the court order o of constructing the desired dam on site No 1, demanding Punjab Government to submit its reply in three weeks and directed that Advocate General and Chief Secretary Punjab must show up before court with full preparation on the next date of hearing.
The court also asked Aitizaz Ahsan to submit a proposal regarding Peeply Dam but he maintained that constructing two Dams at a time is not possible for them so the court must constrict them to Daducha Dam. Once it is completed, they will look into the other Dam too.
Interesting exchange of dialogues held between CJP and Malik Riaz which were more or less as follows:
Malik Riaz: Even Bahria Town will also pay the fees to international company which will monitor the project as well but they should not be put on the mercy of bureaucracy.
CJP: Use good words for bureaucracy as whatever he is now is due to this bureaucracy.
Malik Riaz: Not bureaucracy but Allah has given me successes.
Aftermath of Daducha Dam construction
The Daducha dam is supposed to be constructed upstream on Soan River and all the rainwater from Murree and the Kahuta Hills will gather in the lake at Daducha Village, near Sihala on Kahuta Road. Construction of this dam will greatly help in the combating the water shortage in Rawalpindi and increasing demand. Main beneficiaries of this dam are residents of Rawalpindi and major constraint is the dispute of land acquisition between Punjab Government and DHA valley developers.
Besides that, the villages of Bhun, Launa and Bhaoni will be submerged in the dam. Seven industrial and commercial units, 218 houses and other areas will be affected by the project according to the senior district administration official. Though, villagers of these areas are not obstructing the constructing process.
However, after the Supreme Court’s last session, now the issue is likely to resolve as Bahria town is about to take the reins. So let’s have a look at how Daducha Dam might affect DHA valley and surrounding areas.
Dams, especially large ones, have the potential to cause a lot of problems for the surrounding area, especially the area behind the dam where the water flows toward the blockage. As the above map shows snowdrop, Zinnia, Eglantine, Daisy and Bluebell blocks are located on the shoreline of Daducha River where the dam is said to be build. So these blocks will directly benefit or get affected by the dam construction and general observation is that there are more harms than there are benefits.
Here are some of major pros and cons of dams. Pros include water provision, recreational activities, hydroelectric power generation and cons include soil erosion around the shore line, infertility of soil causing damage to flora and fauna, weaker infrastructure due to water retention, seismic activity, risk of flooding in surrounding areas in case of uncontrolled water flow from spillways. Hence, living around a dam is not that favorable at all.
Impact on Prices:
Prices in DHA valley increased by 20 to 30 percent in 2015 when Malik Riaz claimed the issue of dam was resolved. Now after the recent court order development in blocks other than those surrounding the dam is expected to start at a faster pace.
Daffodils, Jasmine, tulip, oversees block and DHA homes seem to benefit a lot from construction of dam and prices in these blocks will increase once the development starts and possession is made available. There are fair chances that prices will be kept high to compensate for low profit in other five blocks surrounding the Daducha dam.
Some parts of sector K and M of Dha Phase II are also touching the shoreline of Daducha dam. However, most part of these blocks is rather benefited from the construction of dam and prices here will reflect that. Roughly, 15 to 30 percent increase in prices is expected in blocks which are benefitting from construction of Daducha dam.
However, the five blocks namely snowdrop, Zinnia, Eglantine, Daisy and Bluebell blocks are more likely to suffer as they are located on the shoreline of Daducha River where water blockage is expected to flow according to original design.
Besides DHA valley and Bahria town other areas benefiting from Daducha dam include DHA Islamabad Phase II extension, Naval Anchorage, River gardens housing scheme, Soan garden extension, Rawat and residents of Rawalpindi.
According to Gohar Ali Khan, assistant of Barrister Aitizaz Ahsan, they have submitted proposal in writing before the court, stating that the construction of Daducha dam will be completed within one year. Once the construction of dam starts and layout plan is confirmed only then the market reaction can be analyzed as DHA valley’s reputation has already suffered due to land dispute at the site of Daducha dam.