Murad seeks more water for Sindh to save drying crops

Published August 21, 2021
In this file photo, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah addresses a press conference. — DawnNewsTV/File
In this file photo, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah addresses a press conference. — DawnNewsTV/File

KARACHI: Protesting over what he called an “unjust” distribution of water by the Indus River System Authority (Irsa), Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Friday demanded that the federal government intervene in the matter and ensure distribution of water as per 10-daily allocations.

“Sindh has faced 35 per cent water shortage in early Kharif; therefore, people of Sindh should be compensated by releasing more water to enable them to water their drying crops”, he said while addressing a press conference at CM House.

He was accompanied by Senior Adviser on Agriculture Manzoor Wassan, Information Minister Saeed Ghani, Irrigation Minister Jam Khan Shoro and Law Adviser Murtaza Wahab.

‘Sindh has suffered more than Punjab’

The chief minister said that on April 8 Irsa’s advisory committee had anticipated a 10pc shortage during early Kharif starting from April 1 to June 10 with respect to a three-tier formula that was opposed by the Sindh government.

“The water share of Sindh was fixed at 6.345 MAF during early Kharif season against an allocation of 8.292 MAF in the Water Accord, which anticipated a shortage of 23.5pc for the province.”

Says the province had been facing 35pc shortage since early Kharif

Mr Shah said that the share of Punjab was fixed at 10.535 MAF against its 12.424 MAF share in the Water Accord for early Kharif that showed an anticipated shortage of 15.2pc with respect to the Water Accord allocation.

“Sowing season of cotton in Sindh starts from April, whereas in Punjab it begins during May,” the CM said and added: “Therefore, Sindh utilised water keeping in view the anticipated shortage and faced about 22pc shortage in the month of April, but soon after opening of Punjab canals, the shortage to Sindh increased tremendously in the month of May at 38pc, in June 27pc and in July 9pc.”

He said that the shortage faced by Punjab in the month of May was 17pc, in June 12pc and in July 2pc.

“It is the responsibility of Irsa to balance the shortages at the end of early Kharif season, but it has failed in this regard,” he lamented.

Mr Shah said that due to unfair distribution of water by Irsa, Sindh was deprived of 824,000-acre feet of water from April 1 to July 31. “Consequently, there remains an acute shortage of water in Sindh and sowing of cotton and rice crops has been badly affected and there is great hue and cry in the farmer community,” he said.

He said that due to late arrival of water, the demand had accumulated. “Even today Sindh is receiving water as per (Para-2) Water Accord but many tail areas are still without water due to unjust distribution of water by Irsa.

“The Sindh government strongly protests against this unjust distribution of water and demands that federal government shall intervene in the matter and direct Irsa that water shall be distributed as per 10-daily allocations, which were made part and parcel of the Accord by Council of Common Interest (CCI) in 1991,” the CM said.

Urges SC to review law annulment

Replying to a question about the striking down of the Sacked Employees (Reinstatement) Ordinance Act of 2010 by the Supreme Court, the chief minister said that over 10,000 employees of 11 ministries/departments would suffer.

Mr Shah said that the apex court struck down the law under which employees of Intelligence Bureau, Commissioner Afghan Refugees, National Highway Authority, Pakistan Telecommuni­cation Company Limited, Overseas Pakistanis Foundation, State Life Insurance, Civil Aviation Authority, Water and Power Development Authority, Sui Southern Gas Company Ltd, education department and Trading Corporation of Pakistan would be affected.

The CM urged the Supreme Court to review its decisions because it was affecting over 10,000 families.

He added that most of the employees being rendered jobless belonged to Sindh.

To another question, the chief minister said that a federal minister claimed that not a single Afghan national had crossed the border during the ongoing Afghan crisis.

He deplored that the federal government did not take the provinces into confidence during such a crisis despite the fact it was the responsibility of the federal government to plug the exodus of refugees.

Published in Dawn, August 21st, 2021

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