Khuhro hits out at Irsa for terming water releases downstream Kotri as ‘wastage’

Nisar Khuhro said that water was released from Tarbela at wrong time because it neither reduced loadshedding nor benefited people. — PPI/File
Nisar Khuhro said that water was released from Tarbela at wrong time because it neither reduced loadshedding nor benefited people. — PPI/File

HYDERABAD: Pakistan Peoples Party Sindh president Nisar Ahmed Khuhro has hit out at Indus River System Authority’s (Irsa) repeatedly terming water releases downstream Kotri Barrage as ‘wastage’ despite International Panel of Experts’ (IPoE) advice made in a study in 2005 that 5,000 cusecs per day water flows are to be released downstream Kotri.

Khuhro said at a press conference in the dry riverbed of Indus in Kotri downstream on Wednesday evening that Irsa was trying to use the same language which Gen Musharraf used in the past.

He said that Sindh did not accept any dam downstream Tarbela and that was why it opposed Kalabagh dam because this dam had also a component of off-taking canals.

“We will always have our objections over Kalabagh,” he said, adding that Sindh did not object over dam upstream Tarbela so that water could be stored and then released for Tarbela.

He maintained that last year Taunsa downstream flows were recorded at 133,000 cusecs but at Guddu the flows were recorded at 118,000 cusecs. Where the difference of the flows had gone when there was no canal system post-Taunsa and why did not Irsa concede that pumping stations were installed in Taunsa-Guddu reach where Sindh’s water was stolen, he said.

Khuhro said that water was released from Tarbela at wrong time because it neither reduced loadshedding nor benefited people. “While water of Sindh is stolen we are blamed for not sharing correct data,” he remarked.

He said that Sindh was releasing 200 cusecs downstream Kotri for drinking purpose which was almost zero quantum. Lower riparian had the first right of use of water. Sindh did not have objections over telemetry system’s installation in river system, he said.

He said that 1991 Water Accord should be implemented and Irsa should stop beating about the bush that Sindh was wasting water through downstream flows. Sea had devoured lands in lower Sindh region that was why Sindh talked about planting mangroves to check sea intrusion and made “world record”.

He said the 1991 accord should be implemented first when all four provinces agreed over it. He said when crops were grown belatedly it would affect per-acre yields.

He said who would trust Irsa when it was saying Sindh was wasting water.

He said last year federal government announced Rs700bn PSDP portfolio and this year it has been raised to Rs900bn but Sindh’s 17 schemes had been dropped despite raise of Rs200bn. He said PM had announced Rs700bn for Karachi but not a single penny was being earmarked in budget 2021-22. He said all works were to be executed under public-private partnership for Karachi for which PM made tall claims. He said PPP would keep protesting over water shortage across Sindh till June 15.

AG’s report pending in CCI

Irrigation Minister Sohail Anwar Siyal said that water share from North-Western Canal, Nara, Rice and Dadu canals had been cut to meet drinking water needs. He said telemetry system should be installed wherever off-taking canals were functioning in river system across Pakistan as Sindh has no objection over it.

He said that attorney general’s report submitted before CCI in Dec 2019 over water issue was pending decision. One province had objection over it and the report’s findings support Sindh’s case/stance. Sindh is awaiting decision over it. He said that real issue is non-implementation of 1991 Water Accord.

He said Sindh wanted implementation of Water Accord and demanded closure of link canals.

Punjab’s engineers visited Sindh’s two barrages and found gauges correct as mentioned on record, he added.

He said that another dip was going to be seen in water system. He said that Sukkur downstream flows were increased for drinking purposes. But this dip would affect water situation even further.

Published in Dawn, June 3rd, 2021

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