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Sindh CM says new dams not to be accepted on River Indus

KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Monday said that under the National Water Policy (NWP) no new water storage/dam on River Indus would be acceptable until and unless a consensus was developed among all the stakeholders, particularly the lower riparian.

This he said while presiding over a preparatory meeting for Council of Common Interest (CCI)’s scheduled meeting to be held in Islamabad in which National Water Policy would be discussed.

Briefing the CM, Secretary Irrigation Jama Shah said that the amendment proposed by the Sindh government had been incorporated in the proposed NWP.

The distribution as elaborated shall be proportionately adjusted and distributed to provinces accordingly, said the chief minister adding that he would take up the issue again in the CCI meeting.

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The secretary irrigation said that the amendment proposed by Murad Shah that ‘provinces are responsible for routine repair and maintenance of flood protection dykes, flood fighting and drainage. However, in case of cataclysm like 2010 flood, the federal government will provide supplementary funds,’ has not been incorporated in the revised draft policy. On this the chief minister said that the proposed amendment was necessary and he would again take it up.

The CM was also told that his amendment `Build large dams for system augmentation in consensus with all federating units,’ has not been incorporated. On this he said that he was writing a letter to the prime minister requesting to formulate a policy under which new storage/dams would not be allowed without the consensus, particularly of the lower riparian.

He said that the preface of the NWP should be “This National Water Policy recognizes the internationally accepted right of lower riparian on water. Any diversions/intervention in the smooth flow of water would not be allowed until and unless the consensus of all federating units, particularly the lower riparian is achieved,” he dictated the note to the secretary irrigation.

Murad Ali Shah said that Sindh and Balochistan had already faced serious water issues. The construction of new storages/dams would further cause devastation, he added.

“We would not accept the new water policy until and unless our proposed amendment is incorporated in the new policy,” he said.

Another amendment as proposed by the Sindh government is as follows: “A National Water Council (NWC) shall be established with the composition: the prime minister in the chair, the federal water & power minister, federal minister for climate change, federal minister of national food security & research, deputy commission planning & commission, chief ministers of provinces, provincial irrigation ministers, private sectors members from water related disciplines as members and advisors/chairman Federal Flood Commission would be secretary of the council. The prime minister of Azad and Jammu Kashmir (AJK) and chief minister of Gilgit-Balitistan along with their irrigation or agricultural ministers will be invited to the meeting of NWC as observers.”

The functions of the NWC will be as follows:

  1. a) Review and coordinate implementation of national water policy and national water sector strategy in the country and periodic updating of the same.
  2. b) Recommend legislation, policies and strategies for water resources development and management in the country;
  3. c) National planning and coordination for water resources, development and management activities among concerned organizations at federal as well as provincial government level to achieve objective of NWP;
  4. d) Create an enabling environment that shall promote broader multi stakeholders participation and integrated water resources management with due consideration for environment and ecology.
  5. e) Coordinate with concerned organization responsible for controlling pollution of water bodies, including rivers, streams, lakes and ground water.
  6. f) Managing centralized water resources database service; and
  7. g) Any other functions, which the ICC may assign to the council.

Murad Ali Shah said that all the suggestions should be incorporated in the NWP. “I would take up all these issues in the meeting with the objective to safeguard the rights of smaller provinces, particularly the lower riparian.”

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