ISLAMABAD: Punjab and Sindh are not acknowledging the veracity of each other’s viewpoint on the “missing” water between Taunsa to Guddu barrage, a distance of nearly 300 kilometres, which is mostly in the jurisdiction of Punjab.
The political leadership of Sindh, both in the federal and provincial government, are openly accusing Punjab of stealing their water and operating some canals in violation of the Water Accord.
The committee comprising Nawab Khalid Magsi, (MNA), Riaz-ul-Haq, (MNA), and Joint Secretary, Water Resources Ministry Mehar Ali Shah, constituted by Chairman National Assembly Standing Committee on Water Resources, Nawab Yousuf Talpur visited Guddu and Taunsa barrages to measure the amount of water released from Taunsa barrage by the Punjab government and the water that reached Guddu barrage.
The committee, in its initial report, submitted to the National Assembly Standing Committee confirmed that Punjab released 69000 cusecs of water from Taunsa but according to its measurement only 37,000 cusecs reached Guddu barrage. The officials of Sindh Irrigation Department; however, stated that they received 47,000 cusecs of water.
According to sources, Punjab Government is not ready to accept the measurements of the Committee, saying that location where the committee measured water was not at the level required due to which the measurement was far less than the measurement made by the officials of Sindh Irrigation Department itself.
The dispute between Sindh and Punjab appears to be heading towards a showdown as the political leadership of Sindh is openly accusing Indus River System Authority (IRSA) of conniving with Punjab in stealing its water share.
Chief Minister Sindh, sources said, has also approached Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, seeking his intervention for resolution of water issue between the provinces as shortage for both Punjab and Sindh has now reached nearly 50 percent at a time when both provinces are cultivating their crops. PPP leadership is also raising this issue, informally, at all available forums.
Sindh Government argues that the opinion of former Attorney General, Anwar Mansoor Khan should be implemented in letter and spirit to resolve all disputes on Water Accord 1991. However, Ministry of Water Resources and Punjab government maintain that Attorney General for Pakistan Khalid Javed Khan had opined that this is a political issue and should be settled politically.
Sindh government is also unwilling to accept decisions of IRSA taken on the basis of the majority opinion, arguing that such decisions have no legal backing and are a way to deprive Sindh of its due share of water.
This correspondent made phone calls and sent messages to Secretary Irrigation Punjab Saif Anjum and Secretary Irrigation Sindh Sohail Qureshi for their viewpoint on the ongoing water situation and dispute on “missing” water but neither responded till the filing of this story.
Another stakeholder in this dispute is Balochistan that claims that it is not being supplied its due share by Sindh government for years. At a recent meeting of National Assembly Standing Committee, Balochistan claimed that it is being deprived of 70 per cent of its share of the water.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022