NA panel directs IRSA to ensure water sharing agreement’s implementation

Written by The Frontier Post

ISLAMABAD (APP): The National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Water Resources Wednesday directed Indus River System Authority (IRSA) to ensure 1991 Water Sharing Agreement’s implementation.
The meeting of the NA body chaired by Nawab Muhammad Yousuf Talpur also directed WAPDA and the Ministry of Water Resources to install telemetry systems as soon as possible and sought the help of independent experts for site review. Briefing the committee, the member IRSA, Punjab said that 102 million acre feet of usable water was actually available in Pakistan. The remaining 22/20 million acre feet of water was lost by falling into the sea, he added.
“If dams are built, usable water will increase,” taking a detailed look at the matter, the Standing Committee directed that water be distributed in accordance with the spirit of paragraph 2 of the 1991 agreement. The Standing Committee was informed that there were only 2600 miles long canals in Punjab, On the other Sindh had a 600-mile canal system.
However, Punjab has less water loss while Sindh has more water loss.
The committee was informed that the loss of water depended on the slope of the land, the nature of the land, rainfall and seasonal temperature.
Since the land of Punjab is sloping and hard while the land of Sindh is smooth and sandy, more water is wasted in Sindh.
Similarly, the weather in Punjab is colder and humid than in Sindh. Rainfall is also high here while the weather in Sindh is hot and dry and rainfall is also low there so water is wasted more in Sindh.
To date, however, no reliable system for measuring water volume has been developed. To overcome this problem, a telemetry system is being installed which, once installed, will clarify the situation of water loss and will also help in equitable distribution of water.
The Standing Committee directed WAPDA and the Ministry of Water Resources to make it possible to install modern telemetry system as soon as
possible. The Standing Committee was informed that there was no consensus on the measurement of water at different places. Therefore, it is important that the water be measured by an independent body or expert. Representatives of the Ministry of Water Resources told the Standing Committee that WAPDA was already rendering its services in that regard. However, some provinces have reservations about the measurement of WAPDA. Therefore, it has been unanimously decided to have the water measured by an international body, the International Water Management Institute.
To find out how much water the provinces are using and how much water is being wasted. IRSA chairman said an agreement was signed by all the then chief ministers and other important people in 1991 to set up Indus River System Authority (IRSA) to implement the agreement. But there are many questions about Irsa’s performance.
The IRSA chairman, who is also a member of IRSA, Sindh, told the committee that IRSA was carrying out its duties in accordance with the powers vested in it by law. Generally, all matters are decided by consensus, but if there is no consensus, then decisions of IRSA are made by majority vote. He said that according to the 1991 agreement, 114 million acre feet of water is distributed according to the prescribed formula and if there is any shortage of water, the method of distribution is also given in the relevant rules.
The Committee on Water Resources was attended by MNAs Ali Nawaz Awan, Chaudhry Shaukat Ali Bhatti, Chaudhry Javed Iqbal Warraich, Ms. Noorin Farooq Ibrahim, Ms. Nuzhat Pathan, Khalid Hussain Magsi, Riaz Haq, Ehsan-ur-Rehman Mazari, Mir Munawar Ali Talpur, Afrin Khan besides Provincial Minister for Irrigation, The meeting was also attended by Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources and members of IRSA besides senior civil officials of WAPDA, FBR and Irrigation Departments of Punjab and Sindh.

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