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ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Water Resources Monday sought a detailed briefing on Diamer Bhasha Dam to view the measures adopted to stop silting in the water reservoir.

Chaired by Senator Syed Muhammad Sabir Shah, the Senate Standing Committee discussed in detail, sedimentation at Tarbela Dam and measures taken to address it and plot allocation to victims of Tarbela Dam and encroachment.

Discussing sedimentation at Tarbela Dam and measures taken to address it, members were of the view that while looking at ways to de-silt the dam, measures must be taken to allow sediment flow to a certain degree, since this ensures land fertility. The committee stressed the need for moving closer towards nature and adopting alternative energy solutions crucial for the survival and growth.

The ministry was directed to formulate a report that would outline long- and short-term measures to deal with the issue. A detailed briefing on Bhasha Dam is to made in the next meeting as well. The committee was also of the view that mistakes of Tarbela Dam should be avoided in Diamer Bhasha Dam.

Reviewing details of plot allocation to victims of Tarbela Dam Commission, the committee was informed that the number of victims that have been compensated is 1,744. 450 victims filed writ petitions before Peshawar High Court (PHC) Abbottabad Bench for allotment of alternate agricultural land and enhancement of compensation against Wapda, Federal Government, Government of Punjab and Sindh. Based on information provided by 450 victims, only one victim was found eligible with respect to allotment of alternate agricultural land as per eligibility criteria of the Federal Government policy of 1967-68. Since the case is in court and is sub judice, the committee stressed the need for the perspective of both parties emphasizing an out of court settlement.

Discussing unauthorised occupancy of allotted land to victims of Tarbela Dam in Punjab and Sindh, Wapda was of the view that no such information regarding this issue was available with it as it is the domain of the provincial governments. Moreover, it was suggested that if the Committee comes across any such case it may forward the same to the ministry.

The committee was informed that funding for water sector projects is meagre due to which projects worth Rs1 trillion were delayed in the past.

The officials of the Ministry of Water Resources were of the view that with the current pace of funding, water sector projects will be completed in 15-20 years adding that the ministry has to fix financial responsibility on its attached organisation.

The officials also supported increase in water charges on the justification that if prices of fertilisers have increased then why no raised in water charges.

The meeting was attended by senators, Sana Jamali, Taj Haider, Gurdeep Singh, Dr Muhammad Humayun Mohmand, and senior officers from the Ministry of Water Resources, the Wapda, along with all concerned.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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