ISLAMABAD: A subcommittee of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Water Resources asked Rawalpindi Cantonment Board (RCB) and Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa) to submit their dues against operation and maintenance cost of Khanpur Dam to the Capital Development Authority (CDA) by Nov 30.

The RCB and Wasa owe Rs1.2 billion and Rs400 million, respectively, to the CDA.

The subcommittee held its meeting with Khalid Hussain Magsi in the chair which was attended by Ehsanur Rehman. Members Marriyum Aurangzeb and Nuzhat Patahn did not turn up. MNA Ali Nawaz Awan from Islamabad and MNA Sheikh Rashid Shafique from Rawalpindi attended the meeting on special invitations.The civic bodies of Rawalpindi informed the committee about their weak financial positions and sought more time.

Mr Shafique defended Wasa and RDA and said they were facing shortage of funds and Wasa had not enough money even to pay salaries of tubewell operators. He said the agency was facing a deficit of Rs1.4 billion in the current fiscal year.

The MNA said the Punjab government had been requested to provide a bailout package but it was rejected. However, he said, Wasa had sought financial help from Chief Minister Sardar Usman and would get some help in coming days after which the dues would be cleared.

The RCB officials said the civic body was facing financial problems and had requested the federal government to help it. However, despite all odds, the civic body managed to repair water sucking machines at the main filtration plant at Khanpur Dam without any charges, they said.

But CDA officials rejected the claim of the RCB and said it had to pay a loan installment after collecting the shares of RCB and Wasa.

They said Wasa used to submit its dues in the past but RCB had been defaulting for six years.

It would be difficult for the CDA to continue its service for the Rawalpindi city and cantonment if the civic bodies did not pay their dues regularly.

The chairman asked the representatives of the civic bodies to talk to their parent departments and submit the dues within the stipulated time.

The issue of Chirah Dam was also discussed by the committee. However, MNA Ali Nawaz Awan raised an objection that the focal person, the mayor of Islamabad, was not present in the meeting.

The chairman decided to invite the mayor to the next meeting to discuss the dam project to meet the water requirements of the twin cities.

Special committee formed

Subcommittee convener Khalid Hussain Magsi also formed a special committee on the Indus River System Authority (Irsa) to resolve issues between the provinces of Sindh and Punjab and Sindh and Balochistan.

The committee will present its report within 30 days which will be sent to the National Assembly Standing Committee on Water Resources.

The convener said the committee would check the record regarding water released to Sindh as it was alleged that Punjab was involved in misreporting. Balochistan alleged that Sindh was involved in misreporting release of water to it.

He said mismanagement in the distribution of water would be fixed by the committee once and for all so that the province received their share of water.

Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2019