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ISLAMABAD: The Federal and Provincial Governments are to sign pacts on data sharing on water situation in the country, aimed at sorting out differences amongst the federating units on water availability, water losses and other water related disputes, well informed sources told Business Recorder.

This issue was discussed at a recent meeting of National Water Policy, Steering Committee (NWP-SC), presided over by the Minister for Water Resources, Moonis Elahi.

Deputy Secretary (Water), M/o Water Resources briefed the SC on the issue of data sharing between Federal and Provincial Departments on water situation of the country.

He said during the first meeting of NWP-SC held on September 28, 2021, the Committee approved the signing of an MoU between M/o Water Resources and Provincial Liaison Units. He added that it was also decided that M/o Water Resources shall prepare and circulate draft MoU among all concerned organizations for their input. However, as inputs of all the concerned organizations on NWP-IF have not yet been received, the MoU could not be finalized.

Joint Secretary (Water), M/o Water Resources, Mehar Ali Shah emphasized the importance of signing of agreement for data sharing. He contended that concerned organizations did not share the progress/ data with M/o Water Resources particularly regarding the progress achieved so far with respect to the targets set under NWP. He added that without provincial data, tracking progress on the implementation of National Water Policy would not be possible.

Augmenting the view point of the Joint Secretary (Water), Chief Engineering Advisor/Chairman Federal Flood Commission stated that establishment of data centre for sharing the data regarding Water Resources of the country was one of the main requirements under the National Water Policy and the MoU between the provinces and Federal Government regarding sharing of data was need of the hour.

Water policy: Moonis highlights criticality of implementation

Chief Engineer, Irrigation Deptt Punjab suggested that a specific template for data collection be developed on which stakeholders may furnish specific requisite information, and the database/portal once developed, should also be made accessible to all concerned organizations so that accordingly data could be updated, periodically. The Committee decided that Ministry of Water Resources shall constitute a Committee comprising members from Ministry and provinces to prepare the draft MoU. The draft MoU will be placed before the next NWP-SC meeting for further deliberation.

The Committee also discussed update on finalisation of National Water Policy (NWP) Implementation Framework (IF).

Deputy Secretary (Water), Ministry of Water Resources briefed the forum that during first meeting of NWP-SC held on September 28, 2021, it was decided that Ministry of Water Resources will circulate the draft National Water Policy Implementation Framework (NWP-IF) among all concerned organizations/departments for seeking their views/comments, based on which, amended NWP-IF will be placed before the next (second) NWP-SC meeting for final deliberation and further approval from the National Water Council (NWC). He added that the draft NWP-IF was circulated among the relevant 28 organizations on October 6, 2021. However, till December 27, 2021 only 11 Organizations had submitted their response.

Secretary Water Resources stated that most relevant organizations for the implementation of National Water Policy are Irrigation Departments of four Provinces, however, seeking response separately from Provincial Agriculture Department and Public Health Department would not be appropriate. Instead one consolidated response from each province should be communicated through respective Additional Chief Secretary (ACS). He urged the remaining 17 Organisations to share their respective inputs within one week. It was suggested by the Secretary Water Resources that instead of forwarding individual responses by Irrigation, Public Health Engineering and Agriculture Departments, the three Provincial Departments should sit together under the overall umbrella of respective Provincial Planning & Development Department and furnish a consolidated response approved by their respective Additional Chief Secretaries. The meeting agreed to the suggestion.

After detailed discussion following decisions were taken: (i) all Provinces/Federal Entities to share their consolidated views/comments on NWP-IE within a week’s time, which after thorough deliberations in next meeting of NWP-SC will be presented to the National Water Council for approval; (ii) ACS of each province will furnish consolidated response of the province on the draft Implementation Framework within a week’s time; and (iii) all Provinces to share their respective nominations with reference to selection of five private sector members for NWP along with their detailed CVs with Ministry of Water Resources within week. Once all nominations have been received, Ministry of Water Resources will share names with the Office of CEA/CFFC for evaluation and short list 5 private sector members to the NWP’s Steering Committee for its consideration and onward recommendation to NWÇ for approval.

On allocation of 1200 cusecs (650.50 MGD) additional water for Karachi (K-IV Project), Joint Secretary (Water), M/o Water Resources noted CCI’s decision of September 24, 2018 wherein the CCI had recognized the problem of water scarcity in Karachi City and decided to refer the request of Sindh Government to NWC for consideration during its forthcoming meeting. He added that the aim was to devise recommendations keeping in view the present water supply situation and identify anti-water theft and conservation measures besides others to ensure the availability of 1200 cusecs (650.5 MGD) additional water for Karachi City.

He further informed that during 1st meeting of NWP-SC, the issue was discussed and it was decided that the matter did not warrant consideration by NWC as K-IV Project had been started. He added that in order to devise recommendations and measures for ensuring additional water supply of 1200 cusecs for Karachi, in line with the CCI’s decision, a Committee comprising representatives from M/o Water Resources, Secretaries of the four Provincial Irrigation Departments, IRSA members and MD Karachi Water & Sewerage Board be constituted to identify water theft and conservation measures for ensuring water supply to Karachi City. After detailed discussion, it was decided that Ministry of Water Resources would notify the Committee headed by Joint Secretary (Water) and comprising Secretaries Provincial Irrigation Departments as well as IRSA’s Members &MD Karachi Water & Sewerage Board. The Committee shall submit findings to the NWP Steering Committee within one month.

On allocation of 614 cusecs water from Mangla Reservoir to AJ&K (488 cusecs for Irrigation (+ 126 cusecs for drinking), the Steering Committee decided that AJ&K will share its request for allocation of 614 cusecs from Mangla Reservoir with the Ministry of Water Resources for taking further necessary action.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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