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ISLAMABAD: National Assembly Standing Committee on Water Resources on Wednesday decided to call Secretary Council of Common Interests (CCI) Secretariat, in its next meeting to get an update on CCI recent decision on water distribution dispute between Sindh and Punjab, after representatives of both provinces in IRSA contradicted each other’s claims.

Presided over by Nawab Yousuf Talpur, the Committee members saw Member Sindh/ Chairman IRSA Zahid Hussain Junejo and Member Punjab, Amjad Saeed negating each other’s stance on water distribution mechanism between provinces under clause III of Water Apportionment Accord 1991.

The Committee was briefed that both Sindh and Punjab faced 28 percent shortages in Rabi 2021-22 whereas KP and Balochistan were exempted from shortages as per the Accord.

Chairman IRSA further informed the Committee that Punjab received 10.257 MAF water from October 1, 2021 to January 31, 2022, which was one percent more than the approved plan of 10.106 MAF, whereas share of Punjab was almost the same. KP received 14 percent more water during this period. However, share of Balochistan shrank by 5 percent.

Chairman IRSA wanted to make a point that Punjab received more water than its share in Rabi but he was countered by Joint Secretary Water Resources, Mehar Ali Shah and Member Punjab IRSA, that the share of water is fixed annually and not for one specific season. Both were of the view that share figures will be consolidated at the end of year.

Chairman Standing Committee also enquired why share of Balochistan was reduced by 5 percent. Chairman IRSA/ Member Sindh replied that the main reason for the reduction in the share of Balochistan was de-silting of Kirthar Canal, which supplies water to Balochistan. His claim was refuted by Member IRSA Balochistan Abdul Hameed Mengal who said that if the logic of Member Sindh is accepted, then Balochistan also faced 28 percent shortage. After arguments of Member Balochistan, Member Sindh/ Chairman IRSA opted silence.

The role of CCI, recommendation of former Attorney General Anwar Mansoor Khan and complainant provinces also came under hectic discussion.

Standing Committee also directed Sindh and Balochistan Governments to pay water dues to Hub Dam.

The Standing Committee was apprised that Hub Dam was constructed by WAPDA in 1981. It was decided that 66.67 percent of construction cost would be paid by Government of Sindh and 33.33 percent of construction cost would be paid by Government of Balochistan. But since then Government of Sindh and Government of Balochistan has not paid the due amount. Moreover, the water of Hub Dam is provided to both Sindh and Balochistan according to ratio 1:2. Both of the governments are not paying water costs to the administration of Hub Dam. Hence, the repair and maintenance work of Hub Dam is being delayed.

According to the Hub Dam authorities the Government of Sindh has to pay Rs 1210.967 million and an amount of Rs 541.525 million is to be paid by Government of Balochistan. The Standing Committee was informed that Hub Dam is situated in coastal area. It was also informed that during any cyclone or hard weather condition the dam may face any unwanted situation. Hence, it is necessary that both of the provinces should pay their share to Hub Dam authorities, so that the necessary repair and maintenance could be carried out.

The Standing Committee directed that both of the provinces should pay their liabilities to Hub Dam authorities within 30 days. Otherwise, in the next meeting, Ministry of Finance shall be directed to deduct the amounts at source and pay to the Hub Dam authorities. The Standing Committee directed that letter to the Chief Ministers of both Provinces should be written in this regard.

The meeting was attended by Members of National Assembly Sheikh Rashid Shafique, Ch Javed Iqbal Warraich, Naureen Farooq Ibrahim, Nuzhat Pathan, Riaz-ul-Haq (through Video Link) and Afreen Khan. Saleh Muhammad, Parliamentary Secretary for Water Resources was also present in the meeting. Minister for Irrigation Department, KP also attended the meeting.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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