Senate committee ponders over water scarcity issues in Sindh, Balochistan
ISLAMABAD: A meeting of the Senate standing committee on water resources chaired by Senator Shamim Afridi on Monday pondered over issues of water scarcity particularly in Sindh and Balochistan.
Grand Democratic Alliance’s (GDA) leader Senator Muzaffar Hussain Shah was of the view that Sindh has incurred 31 percent of agricultural losses due to water scarcity in the province. He stressed on the need to address certain essential issues in the context of water scarcity in Pakistan.
He stated that the Indus Water Apportionment Accord of 1991 was signed when he was Sindh chief minister in 1991. He asserted that the accord emphasised on the need to check sea intrusion and ensure minimum escapage below Kotri. Sindh held the view that the optimum level was 10 MAF while other studies indicated different figures and therefore it was decided to undertake further studies.
He showed displeasure and questioned Indus River System Authority (IRSA) about the reasond why the study had not been conducted in the last 28 years. He stated that Sindh has suffered miserably as a result of this delay and almost 31 billion acres of land has been destroyed in Thatta and Badin due to sea intrusion.
He asserted that the committee be informed of how many cusecs of water was available in the system during the months of March, April and May and the amount of water that had been delegated to Sindh.
He also questioned the reason for flood canals being opened in the wake of acute water shortage in Sindh, and why Mangla was filled under the same circumstances.
Plight of Balochistan cannot be ignored
Balochistan National Party’s (BNP) Senator Jehnanzeb Jamaldini, while asserting that the situation in Sindh was extremely critical, said that the plight of Balochistan cannot be ignored.
He suggested that Chairman WAPDA must conceive two dams for Balochistan so that the acute water shortage issue is addressed in the province. He also suggested that senior officers from the National Water Commission be invited in the next meeting.
Retired Senator Jan Jamali, who was specially invited, was of the view that in the near future only a water secure country would be a food secure country. Pointing out the seriousness of the matter and its internal repercussions, he asserted that if this matter is not dealt in an effective manner, inter-provincial harmony is at stake.
Wapda, IRSA directed to submit replies
Chairman Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) Muzammil Hussain said that the questions raised by the committee did not pertain to either of the agencies present, and were political and policy issues that IRSA and WAPDA being executing agencies do not have the power to address.
He asserted that questions asked would be addressed if a daylong session was convened. He said it is imperative that WAPDA reports directly to the prime minister and is questioned about the progress of each project every week.
The committee chairman directed Chairman WAPDA to send his recommendations at the earliest, and also directed IRSA officers to answer the queries raised by Senator Muzaffar Hussain Shah within ten days.