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Water pricing stratagem

Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar has asked the government to generate funds for construction of future dams through water pricing and contended that 25 percent funds required for major reservoirs  could be acquired from the people. Presiding over a meeting of Law and Justice Commission, the Chief Justice said the issue of water scarcity had reached an alarming level that was fatal to the life and livelihood of the citizens of Pakistan.

The meeting was attended by senior representatives of the ministries, Indus River System Authority, National Engineering Services of Pakistan, Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA), Indus Water Commission and private experts. “Water pricing mechanism should be improved”, conveyed the Chief Justice, according to minutes of meeting conveyed to the ministries of planning, water resources, energy, climate change, Law and Justice and Cabinet Division besides provincial governments, professional and technical agencies.

The resolution of water scarcity, water resources augmentation and conservation by constructing big and small dams and checking its wastage during irrigation process are the responsibilities of the executive. But it dismally failed to discharge these responsibilities. Consequently the issue was taken up by the superior judiciary as a breach of fundamental rights. It is the need of the time to devise a strong mechanism to preserve water resources.

Water pricing is one of the effective methods of water conservation if it is properly implemented. It is matter of common observation that big landowners waste bulk of the water resources merely because they are not bound by a legal mechanism to pay the real price of the water they use and waste. They are also not paying the agriculture income tax Installation of water charges meters are not possible on big canals. However, water meters can be installed on the small irrigational channels if PVC pipes are laid in them. It will ensure optimum use of available water resources and persuade the feudal class to refrain from colossal wastage of water. But the real problem again will be who will bell the cat? The example of Rs. 850 billion arrears of electricity bills outstanding against the political and business elite is before us. Will the provincial irrigation departments have the spine and will to authentically bill the influential landlords and regularly receive the water charges bill?

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