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ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly Standing Committee on Water Resources Friday decided to re-measure water being discharged from Taunsa Barrage and reaching Guddu Barrage under different methodologies to resolve dispute between Sindh and Punjab amid acknowledgement that Sindh is receiving less water vis-à-vis its due share.

However, Minister for Irrigation Sindh, Jam Khan Shoro, who expressed his serious concerns on the absence of Federal Minister for Resources, Khurshid Ahmad Shah, boycott the meeting, along with officials of Sindh Irrigation Department for failing to get a clear decision in favour of his province from the Committee headed by Nawab Yousuf Talpur.

Syed Mehar Ali Shah, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources, who measured water level at Taunsa barrage and Guddu barrage as member of Committee that also comprised Khalid Magsi MNA and Riaz-ul-Haq MNA, presented his draft report to Standing Committee.

The Committee noted that they gauged out of the 69,000 cusecs of water discharged from Taunsa only 37000 cusecs reached Guddu.

The entire “water gauging” committee acknowledged that Punjab is releasing due share of water from Taunsa Barrage but the amount of water reaching Guddu Barrage is far less than what is released at Taunsa. The Committee agreed to the demand of Sindh government that the province should be delivered its due share of water at Guddu.

Deadlock over water dispute persists

The Members of Water Measurement Committee sought a few days to go through the draft report submitted by Syed Mehar Ali Shah so that they can add their viewpoints to the report. The National Assembly Committee agreed to give time to the Committee for its input till next meeting of the main committee.

Member Irsa Punjab, Amjad Saeed claimed that water reaching Guddu barrage is in accordance with agreed share of water and Sindh Irrigation Department is not reporting accurate figures. He said there are tube wells in the areas but the amount of water they are pumping will be 1000 or 2000 cusecs not 42000 cusecs.

The newly appointed Secretary Irrigation, Punjab, Shehryar Sultan proposed that since it is a very sensitive matter, the water discharged from Taunsa to Guddu should be re-measured with different technologies. He also proposed that independent experts be deputed at barrages to gauge water to satisfy both provinces.

Khalid Magsi and Sardar Riaz Mahmood Khan Mazari acknowledged that water between Taunsa and Guddu is being stolen in the area of kaccha through pumps but the amount of stolen water can only be ascertained through measurement at different times and different methodologies.

The committee was also informed that Irsa has already increased water losses allowance from 28 per cent to 38 per cent, which itself is an acknowledgment that Sindh is not getting its due share of water.

Mehar Ali Shah, Joint Secretary, also gave a presentation on the issue. He said, from April 1 to June 3, 2022 there were days when Sindh received the same amount at Guddu that was released from Taunsa barrage which apparently indicates that sowing season in kaccha area was over.

Minister for Irrigation, Sindh Jam Khan Shoro said that he attended the meeting of National Assembly Standing Committee to get a positive verdict from it notably that Sindh should be given its due share of water at Guddu barrage but since the issue is not yet resolved he does not feel it appropriate to sit in the meeting any more as the people of Sindh are without water. He also criticised Federal Minister for Water Resources, Syed Khurshid Ahmad Shah for not attending the meeting which is related to water of the province.

Shoro, who was visibly disappointed, walked out from the meeting despite repeated requests from the chair and other Committee Members. The officials of Sindh Irrigation Department also left the meeting. This irritated the Committee Chairman, who took serious note of it, saying that the officials cannot walk out or boycott the meeting.

The Committee directed that Wapda should ensure timely payment of compensation amounts to the remaining victims of Mangla Dam and Greater Karachi Bulk Water Supply Scheme K-IV be completed timely.

The Standing Committee was informed that in order to increase the water capacity of Mangla Dam in 2004-05, it was decided to raise the Mangla Dam. So, according to PC1 it was decided that land up to level of 1,250 feet may be acquired for Mangla Dam. Accordingly, the land was acquired and compensation to the affect-tees was made. The entire amount available as per PC-I has been utilized. But several people knocked the door of the Courts with the request that the compensation being paid to them was much less than the market rate. So, Supreme Court of Azad Kashmir decided several cases in favour of the affect-tees. However, due to non-availability of funds payments cannot be made to them.

The Standing Committee was informed that to fulfil water needs of most populous city of the country, ie, Karachi the government decided to complete K-IV project. In spite of passage of several years the project could not be completed. However, on January 21, 2022 a revised and modified PC-I of the project amounting to Rs. 126.405 billion has been approved by Ecnec. Now, the project shall be completed in October/November, 2023. The comprehensive work is being carried out rapidly. However, there is a need that the Provincial Government should also work to fulfil its responsibilities. The Standing Committee recommended that all stakeholders should complete their targets on time and K-IV should be completed according to the timeline given in the PC1.

The meeting of the Standing Committee on Water Resources was presided over by its Chairman Nawab Muhammad Yousuf Talpur and attended by the Members of National Assembly; Sardar Riaz Mahmood Khan Mazari, Wajiha Qamar, Khalid Hussain Magsi, Riaz-ul-Haq and Afreen Khan. The meeting was also attended by the Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources, Secretary, Irrigation, Punjab, Minister, Irrigation Department, Sindh, Chairman and Members, Irsa and senior officers of the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation Department.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022


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