KARACHI: Members from treasury and opposition benches in the Sindh Assembly on Friday complained that the province was not being given its due share of water under the Water Accord as Sindh was getting 37 per cent lesser water than its share.

While asking a verbal query during the Question Hour session, Arif Mustafa Jatoi of the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) became critical of water shortages in the province asking “who would account for Sindh’s water being directly lifted by Punjab” when Irrigation Minister Sohail Anwar Siyal informed the house that the province was getting 37pc lesser water than its share according to the Indus River System Authority (Irsa).

Furnishing replies to lawmakers’ written and verbal queries, he said that the Pakistan Peoples Party-led Sindh government had taken up the issue at the Council of Common Interests (CCI).

Irrigation minister asks MQM-P, GDA to raise issue of water shortage with the centre

Welcoming Mr Jatoi’s question, the minister asked the GDA and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) to raise this issue being coalition partners of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-led federal government.

“We are also fighting the case of Sindh but the GDA and MQM-P should also raise the issue as they are allies of the federal government,” he said.

Plea to review water share ‘always rejected’

He said that Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah had raised this issue at the CCI but the federal government owing to majority of votes always turned down Sindh’s request of reviewing the water share.

The irrigation minister said that there was 50pc shortage of water at Guddu Barrage, 41pc at Sukkur Barrage and 28pc cent at Kotri Barrage against the allocated water share of Sindh under the Water Accord.

Giving the province-wise break-up of the water share under the Water Accord, he said that Punjab’s share during Kharif season was 37pc, Sindh’s 33pc and Balochistan’s share was 2.85pc of the available water.

He added that the availability of water in the Indus River varied every year.

To a question asked by PTI’s Khurram Sher Zaman, the irrigation minister could not inform the house about the amount of water shortage in cusecs.

MQM-P’s Rana Ansar verbally asked why the issue of water share had been lingering for over two decades and what the provincial government had done so far for the permanent resolution of the issue.

Mr Sial replied that the provincial government had been taking up the issue at all forums, including the CCI.

“Besides, several letters have been written to the federal government in this regard, but to no avail,” he lamented.

In reply to another question by Mr Jatoi, the irrigation minister told the house that there were 95 delay action dams operational in the province out of which 69 were built from July 2013 to date.

“The main purposes of the Delay Action Dams is water table improvement and make it consumable for drinking and agriculture purpose,” he added.

Besides, the minister said, the irrigation department had constructed 62 small dams across the province.

Desilting of 619 canals carried out

In reply to a verbal question, he said that desilting of as many as 619 canals was carried out covering a total area of 364 kilometres.

He said that the desilting of canals was conducted usually after every three years, but it was done according to requirements.

Separately, Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani asked lawmakers aged over 60 to get vaccinated from a desk established in the assembly.

“Our Health Minister Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho has established the vaccination desk in the assembly’s committee room. Willing lawmakers or their family members aged 60 years or more can go and get injected [with Covid-19 vaccine],” the speaker said.

The session was adjourned to Monday.

Published in Dawn, March 27th, 2021

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