Pro-Kalabagh dam chief of Wapda resigns

Pro-Kalabagh dam chief of Wapda resigns

Pro-Kalabagh dam chief of Wapda resigns LAHORE: The chairman of the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda), Zafar Mahmood, on Monday resigned from his post, citing “personal reasons” for the sudden decision.

Speaking to Dawn, he insisted that it was “the right time [for him] to quit the job”.

But well-placed sources in Wapda told this reporter that the Prime Minister Office was not happy with Mr Mahmood because of his stand on the controversial Kalabagh dam project and delay in the execution of the 1,410MW Tarbela-4 extension hydroelectric project under an accelerated work plan as desired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

“The chairman was under pressure to quit his job for some time,” a Wapda official said on the condition of anonymity.

While the reported pro-Kalabagh dam stance of Mr Mahmood has faced opposition from small provinces, especially Sindh, the delay in the completion of the Tarbela-4th extension project is causing difficulties for the PML-N government to achieve the task of ending loadshedding before the next general elections.

Mr Mahmood said he was resigning absolutely due to personal reasons.

“The news related to my stance on the Kalabagh dam or any other project is just based on speculation,” he added.

The Wapda chairman, who will continue to work till the appointment of his successor, said his stand on the Kalabagh dam project was based on facts and it was now part of the record.

In an interview with Dawn earlier this month, Mr Mahmood had vowed to continue his efforts to remove what he described as misconceptions about the 3,700MW Kalabagh dam project to pave the way for its implementation.

During the interview he did not give any hint of resigning from his post, even though he had offered to quit if “anyone from Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan proved that the implementation of the project would submerge Nowshera and affect the flow of the Indus river”.

The Nawaz Sharif government too distanced itself from the Wapda chairman’s stance on the dam, terming it his ‘personal opinion’ after his statements and newspaper articles advocating its construction drew a lot of criticism from people in Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Mr Mahmood had shared his arguments on the Kalabagh dam project with Water and Power Minister Khwaja Mohammad Asif one and a half years ago before going public on it. The minister, he said, had allowed him to do so to the extent of facts alone.

In response to a question, Mr Mahmood said he would not continue as chairman of Wapda even if the prime minister asked him to withdraw his resignation. “I have resigned due to personal reasons and I think it is the right time to quit the job.”

Mr Mahmood, who before taking his job as chairman of Wapda in April 2014, is the second top official of the authority to have resigned his job during the PML-N government.

Earlier, his predecessor Syed Raghib Abbas Shah had also quit the post citing personal reasons on April 16, 2014.


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