Punjab seeks ‘neutral umpires’ at barrages

Published May 29, 2021
“We want neutral umpires on water sharing among provinces. This step is necessary in the wake of Sindh’s reports of 39 per cent water transmission losses (evaporation into air and seepage into soil) which are maximum 9.0 per cent in Punjab this year,” Punjab Irrigation Minister Mohsin Leghari told the media. — AFP/File
“We want neutral umpires on water sharing among provinces. This step is necessary in the wake of Sindh’s reports of 39 per cent water transmission losses (evaporation into air and seepage into soil) which are maximum 9.0 per cent in Punjab this year,” Punjab Irrigation Minister Mohsin Leghari told the media. — AFP/File

LAHORE: Punjab has demanded deployment of neutral monitors at all barrages in the country to do away with no-confidence among the federating units on water sharing.

“We want neutral umpires on water sharing among provinces. This step is necessary in the wake of Sindh’s reports of 39 per cent water transmission losses (evaporation into air and seepage into soil) which are maximum 9.0 per cent in Punjab this year,” Punjab Irrigation Minister Mohsin Leghari told the media outside the Punjab Assembly on Friday.

The irony is that transmission losses in Sindh are higher despite the fact that the length of its canal system is just 600 miles as compared with 2,600 miles in Punjab, he said.

“The fact of the matter is that the southern province is facing 17 per cent and Punjab 22 per cent water scarcity, while authorities of the former underreport availability of water. We’ve demanded Irsa (Indus River System Authority) to deploy monitors particularly at the points where water enters and exits Punjab and Sindh to remove no-trust among the provinces on the availability and distribution of water.”

These monitoring teams should comprise one representative from Punjab and Sindh each and one from the Irsa as a neutral player, he added.

He said Sindh’s complaints regarding distribution of water were misplaced because the inflow of water into rivers and dams had reduced alarmingly.

The minister regretted that no government paid attention to long-term water storage policy in the past. He said the Punjab government was constructing 13 small dams.

Speaking at a press conference, CM’s assistant Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan regretted that Sindh was trying to divide the nation by creating hate among federating units and PPP was trying to gain public sympathies through water politics.

She said the apportionment of waters of the Indus River System between the provinces in 1991 had given Punjab the right to use its share of water at Taunsa and Panjnad.

The chief minister’s aide said Sindh was giving a misleading impression that Punjab’s representative in Irsa was trying to pressurize Sindh’s representative, which was factually incorrect and misleading.

Published in Dawn, May 29th, 2021

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