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ISLAMABAD: IRSA Advisory Committee (IAC) on Thursday failed to finalise water availability criteria for Rabi 2021-22 after the representatives of Sindh government walked out of the meeting in protest against water distribution mechanism.

Presided over by Chairman Indus River System Authority (IRSA) Saif Anjum, who is also Secretary Irrigation Punjab, the meeting was scheduled to also discuss Tarbela (T3), Tarbela (T4) remaining works and Tarbela 5 (T5) operational constraints.

In addition, IRSA members representing different provinces, Secretary Irrigation Punjab, Sindh Secretary Agriculture Sindh, Member Water (Wapda), Member Power (Wapda) and other officials attended the meeting.

IRSA’s spokesperson in its communication with the media had conveyed that the water regulator will issue an official statement after the meeting.

Member Sindh, Zahid Hussain Junejo, who allegedly planned to stage a protest on the advice of Sindh government, had invited media persons individually to share his apprehensions. However, when IRSA authorities asked media persons to leave the premises as they had not been invited, the Member Sindh also backed out and avoided talking to media saying that he had not invited anyone.

According to an official communication, IRSA has rescheduled IAC meeting for October 5, 2021 along with the following agenda ;(i) allocation of water to Balochistan over and above its share i.e. 1.026 MAC (S.E Pat-feeder Canal & drainage circle ;(ii) briefing and decision on Wapda’s constraints on T3/T4 and T5 works;(iii) presentation by International Water Management Institute (IWMI) on the methodology of discharge measurements in the light of IRSA’s decision of June 16, 2021 and ;(iv) any other item with the permission of the Chair.

Government of Balochistan, in the working paper urged IRSA that Balochistan’s share of 0.306 MAF entitled against Mangla raising may be incorporated as previously it was being drawn.

The provincial government further said that the province during Kharif 2021 faced acute shortfall of 0.897 MAF water, which may be compensated in the light of a number of IRSA meetings, so that the areas left wasted as a result of non-availability of irrigation water could be irrigated along with Rabi Command.

Meanwhile, Minister for Water Resources, Moonis Elahi, in his tweet said that Pakistan is facing severe water crisis. He further emphasised the need to adopt combined national priorities instead of hurling political accusations and fuelling provincial differences in these testing times.

He maintained that there is also a need to construct mega water reservoirs in the country on war footing and urged saving each drop of water as security is in saving water.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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