Sindh Assembly slams Irsa for slashing province’s water share

Published May 25, 2021
Lawmakers demanded that Irsa give Sindh its due share of water in the light of the Water Accord of 1991. — Photo courtesy Irsa's website/File
Lawmakers demanded that Irsa give Sindh its due share of water in the light of the Water Accord of 1991. — Photo courtesy Irsa's website/File

KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly on Monday witnessed a stormy session as ruling Pakistan People Party vehemently condemned the federal government for cutting down Sindh’s water share in violation of the 1991 Water Accord through a strong-worded resolution that was opposed by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, saying the PPP created an artificial shortage by favouring its “blue-eyed waderas”.

Major opposition parties in the provincial assembly — Grand Democratic Alliance and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan — which are coalition partners of the PTI-led federal government, however, supported the resolution tabled by Irrigation Minister Sohail Anwar Sial.

The house later adopted the resolution that said: “This House condemns Indus River System Authority (Irsa) decision to cut down Sindh’s water share by three-tier formula which is a violation of the 1991 Water Accord. The province’s agriculture sector contributes at least 23 per cent to Pakistan’s GDP. Not only is the economy at stake but also the livelihoods of many farmers across the province.”

Opposition MQM-P and GDA support resolution against Irsa; PTI blames unfair water distribution by Sindh govt for shortages

It added that the Water Apportionment Accord (1991) was an agreement on water-sharing between the provinces of Pakistan.

“Irsa’s decision to cut Sindh’s water supply is not only against the Water Accord of 1991 but also violates the very sanctity of the Constitution of Pakistan. Thousands of acres shrunk because of non-availability of water downstream of Kotri Barrage.”

The assembly demanded that Irsa give Sindh its due share of water in the light of the Water Accord of 1991. “All Provinces deserve fair distribution of water under the agreed formula. The relevant authorities must be held accountable for denying Sindh’s due share of water,” it read.

Speaking on the resolution, Irrigation Minister Siyal said that on the suggestion of Punjab, Irsa was providing water to Sindh under a three-tier formula, which he said was a sheer violation of Water Accord 1991.

He admitted that there was a water shortage in the country, but deplored that the shortages should have been shared equally, while Sindh was forced to face 44 per cent of the shortage and Punjab was facing just nine per cent of total shortage.

“We don’t want water share of Balochistan or Punjab but our (Sindh) due share,” he said, adding that thousands of acres had been swallowed up by the sea.

‘Unfair distribution causes water shortage’

Supporting the resolution, GDA’s Dr Rafiq Bhanbhan urged the provincial government to ensure fair distribution of available water.

“There is a shortage of water but at the same time the Sindh government was unable to ensure fair distribution of whatever amount of water it has right now,” he added.

Mangla Sharma of the MQM-P said that her party stood beside the people of Sindh on the water issue, asking as to what Sindh’s representative in Irsa had done for the province.

The situation took an unpleasant turn when Abdul Aziz of the PTI opposed the resolution, claiming that the province was getting fair amount of water but it was “unfair” distribution that created artificial shortage of water.

“Sindh has got fair quantity of water but the people were deprived of the basic necessity due to mala fide of the provincial government,” he added.

His remarks enraged the irrigation minister, who ostensibly lost his temper and moved aggressively towards the PTI member, but Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mukesh Kumar Chawla obstructed his way.

“Have some shame,” Sial shouted at the PTI member, asking him to stop uttering rubbish (Bakwaas nahi karo).

PPP’s Heer Soho, Mir Allah Bakhsh Talpur, Syed Zulfikar Shah, Aijaz Shah Bukhari, Abdul Bari Pitafi, Ismail Rahu, Taimoor Talpur and Syed Sardar Shah, PTI’s dissident member Shaharyar Shar and Arif Mustafa Jatoi of GDA also spoke on the occasion.

Later, the resolution was adopted unanimously as the PTI legislators did not say ‘no’ during the voting despite their disapproval in speeches.

Calling-attention notices

While replying to a calling-attention notice of PTI’s Khurram Sher Zaman, Parliamentary Secretary of the local government department Saleem Baloch said that the issue of dog bites was dangerous across the country, but the Sindh government was “pioneer” in launching a Rs1 billion three-year programme on modern approach to control the menace.

He said that the stray dogs across the province would be vaccinated against rabies and sterilised to control their population. “Bids have been invited and the contract would be awarded on May 28.”

Besides, he said that veterinary centres would be set up in each district of the province and the chief minister had ordered release of funds to union councils on an emergency basis in this regard.

In reply to a calling-attention notice given by MQM-P’s Mangla Sharma, Minister Chawla said that the Safe City Project of installation of 10,000 CCTV cameras would be completed in the next few months.

He said that after its completion in Karachi, the project would be launched in other major cities in the province.

Replying to a calling-attention notice given by PTI’s Shah Nawaz Jadoon regarding water shortage in Keamari and Sultanabad, the parliamentary secretary said that there was overall shortage of 665 MGD in the city, which was getting only 550 MGD against requirement of 1,200 MGD.

He said that the water supply to Mr Jadoon’s constituency was affected due to bursting of pipeline from Pipri and it was now restored.

Question Hour

While replying to the lawmakers’ written and verbal queries during Question Hour, Mines and Mineral Minister Mir Shabbir Ali Bijarani said that the scheme of feasibility of granite deposits in Thar with an estimated cost of Rs50 million was under way and a study report was completed.

To another question, he said that there were eight cement factories in the province and six of them were operational.

The sitting was later adjourned to Tuesday (today).

Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2021

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