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Sindh to resist construction of new dams on River Indus

Naimat Khan

KARACHI: Chief Minister Sindh, Syed Murad Ali Shah, on Monday announced that he will strongly oppose the construction of new dams on River Indus without prior consultation and approval of all stakeholders including Sindh Government.

This announced came to fore when the country is bracing for water and power crisis amid lack of storage dams in the country.

“Under the National Water Policy (NWP) no new water storage/dam on River Indus is acceptable until and unless a consensus is developed among all the stake holders, particularly the lower riparian,” CM Sindh said while presiding over a preparatory meeting for CCI scheduled meeting to be held in Islamabad in which National Water Policy would be discussed.

Secretary Irrigation Jama Shah briefing the chief minister said that the amendment proposed by the Sindh government has been incorporated in the proposed NWP. They are secure katcha areas and economy thereof; preservation of delta area by proving sufficient supplies regularly and rain water disposal arrangement in plains where it cannot be disposed of or diverted in the river.

He said that the proposal given by Sindh chief minister that “to implement water apportionment accord 1991 in true letter and spirit and prevent its provision in para-2, from amendments/distortions at any level of forum.

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

Secretary Irrigation said that the amendment proposed by the chief minister that ‘provinces are responsible for routine repair and maintenance of flood protection dykes, flood fighting and drainage. However, in case of major catastrophic 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 chief minister was also told that his amendment `Build large dams for system augmentation with consensus of all federating units,’ has not been incorporated. On this the chief minister said that he was writing a letter to the prime minister with the request to formulate a policy under which new storage/dams would not be allowed with the out the consensus, particularly of the lower riparian. He went on saying 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 have already faced serious water issues. The construction of new storages/dams would further cause devastation. “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 Sindh government that `A National Water Council (NWC) shall be established with the composition: prime minister chairman, 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. Prime Minister of AJK and chief minister of Gilgit Balitistan along with their irrigation or agriculture ministers will be invited to the meeting of NWC as observers.

The functions of the NWC will be as follows: a) Review and coordinate implementation of national water policy and national water sector strategy in the country and periodic updating of the same. b) recommend legislation, policies and strategies for water resources development and management in the country; 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; d) Create an enabling environment that shall promote broader multi stakeholders participation and integrated water resources management with due consideration for environment and ecology, e Coordinate with concerned organization responsible for controlling pollution of water bodies, including rivers, streams, lakes and ground water, f) Managing centralized water resources database service; and g) Any other functions, which the ICC may assigned to council.

The chief minister said that these 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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