LARKANA: Differences have come to the fore between Sindh government and the Indus River System Authority (Irsa) over the authority’s assessment of water shortage as Sindh Minister for Irrigation Sohail Anwar Siyal rejected Irsa’s claim of four per cent shortage and says Sindh is currently experiencing 28 per cent shortage.

The minister said at a press conference at local press club here on Monday that Irsa could not deprive any province of its rightful share in water through wrong figures and false claims.

He rejected the Irsa’s claim that it was providing 71,000 cusecs to Sindh and said the province was drawing only 66,000 cusecs against its indent of 90,000 cusecs from Chashma Barrage. “If we compare water shortage in Punjab and Sindh, we find that Punjab is facing just five per cent shortage,” he said.

‘Sindh is facing 28pc shortage as against Irsa’s claim of 4pc’

Under water accord 1991, Sindh was to receive 3.477 million acre feet water from April 1 to May 10 but the province was supplied only 3.421m acre feet. Quoting water quantum at different barrages in Sindh on Sunday, he said the cumulative shortage was recorded at 37pc.

He dismissed Irsa’s claim that water share had been determined in accordance with the water accord of 1991. The current three-tier formula for water distribution was in violation of the accord, which never mentioned this term, he said.

He called Irsa’s claim that Sindh was cutting down on actual share of Balochistan as baseless and said that Punjab never shared figures of ‘water utilisation’ while Sindh always did and shared the figures with all.

Pakistan Peoples Party wanted to ensure just distribution of water among all provinces so that no one felt deprived and Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari had put a question mark over the entire system of water distribution, he said, adding that if one province was made to suffer water shortage today then tomorrow another province would have to face it.

The minister proposed evolving a system to ensure justice with all provinces and said that it ill behoved Irsa as a regulatory authority to act as a party instead of resolving contentious issues among all provinces.

He said that Sindh experienced 44pc shortage at Kotri Barrage. “We are not making it a political issue but Irsa is dealing it politically,” he said.

He said that paddy transplantation would begin in Sindh from May 20 but the province had not yet been supplied its share of water. “We are already receiving reports of drinking water shortage from Thatta, Sujawal, Ghotki, Karachi and other parts of the province,” he said.

The minister said that water shortage would seriously affect rice and sugar-cane production. Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and Grand Democratic Alliance lawmakers’ silence over the burning issue of water shortage and Punjab’s release of water into link canals was nothing but criminal, he said.

He said that PPP would raise voice over the issue from all forums and if the issue remained unsolved the party would take to the streets.

Published in Dawn, May 18th, 2021

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