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Former Indus water commissioner was put on ECL for failing to prevent construction of Nimoo-Bazgo project
 
 
Khalid Mustafa
Monday, January 02, 2012
From Print Edition
 
 

 

ISLAMABAD: Syed Jamaat Ali Shah, former commissioner of Pakistan Commission of Indus Water, whose name was put on the Exit Control List after it was established that he had helped and facilitated India in building a hydropower project on Pakistan’s Indus River, inflicting huge damage to the country’s water interests, has escaped to Canada.

 

According to Additional Secretary Hamid Ali, it was established in the report prepared by Mohammad Imtiaz Tajwar, Secretary Wapda, that Syed Jamaat Ali Shah did not play his due role and remained silent about the Nimoo Bazgo Hydropower Project (built by India during 2002- 2009) and did not raise any objections during the Pak-India meetings at the level of Permanent Indus Commission of Indus Waters.

 

It is surprising that Shah has managed to dodge the concerned authorities and is now in Canada, a senior official requesting anonymity told The News. This correspondent made several attempts to contact the federal minister for water and power to know how Jamaat Ali Shah had managed to escape, but his cell phone remained unattended.

 

The 57-meter-high Nimoo-Bazgo hydroelectric project is being developed in the Leh District on the Indus River. Additionally, 42-meter high Chuttak hydroelectric project is also being completed on the Suru River, a tributary of Indus in the Kargil district of Indian-held Kashmir.

 

The said projects will reduce the flows of Indus River, the lifeline of Pakistan. The said dams can store water up to 120,000,000 cubic metres. India has also managed to get approval of carbon credits amounting to $482,083 in seven years ($68,869 per year) fromthe UN for the two projects after showing that it has got the clearance report on trans-boundary environmental impact assessment of the said projects from Pakistan. But the ministry failed to find out who granted clearance. All it did was framing the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) so that such negligence could be avoided in future.

 

The water and power ministry had earlier initiated a probe as to how India managed to construct the two projects, particularly Nimoo Bazgo project, and why the Pakistan Commission of Indus water failed to take proper measures under the Indus Waters Treaty to stop its construction.

 

On the basis of its report, the ministry has withheld the pension of Mr Shah who retired just before the finalisation of the report, a copy of which is available with The News. Jamaat Ali Shah retired on September 30, 2011 and the report was submitted on September 23, 2011.

 

The most alarming aspect of the report is that the PCIW team never visited the project before and during the construction period of the project.

 

The official claimed that India had informed Mr Jamaat Ali Shah about the Nimoo Bazgo project 6 months before the initiation of its construction. At that time Syed Jamaat Ali Shah had objected to the design of the project as being against the provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty.

 

According to the report, Military Intelligence (MI) Directorate had informed the government on June 6, 2005 that India was planning to construct the Nimoo-Bazgo hydroelectric project, which would be completed by 2010. The report also divulged that Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) further informed the government on July 25 2005 that the Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has visited Leh, Kargil and Siachen Glacier on June 11, 2005 and laid the foundation stone of Nimoo-Bazgo and Chutak hydroelectric power plants. Similarly, the ISI on September 7, 2005 shared information about the visit of the Indian prime minister to Siachen and Kargil.

 

The report also reveals that the PCIW headed by Syed Jamaat Ali Shah remained silent during 2007,2008,2009 about the project. But surprisingly it started pursuing the project vigorously at all levels when it was known that it would be impossible to change the design of the project after its completion. By that time it was too late for any court or neutral expert to give decision against the project.

 

A water expert Arshad H Abbasi associated with SDPI claims it was he who pointed out that Mr Shah did not visit the site of the Nimoo-Bazgo and let India complete the project and to this effect he wrote many letters to the prime minister. He also said that Mr Riaz A Khan, then advisor to ministry of water and power, who is no longer associated with the ministry is also involved in helping India clinch the carbon credits from the UN.

 

According to sources, Mr Kamal Majidullah, special assistant to prime minister on water also played a role in implicating Mr Jamaat Ali Shah in the Nimoo-Bazgo case. Mr Shah says that in July last year (2010) he recommended to Kalam Majidullah to move court of arbitration (CoA) against India for building Numoo-Bazgo, which is not in line with Indus Waters Treaty, but the authorities concerned remained unmoved.