KARACHI: The Sindh government warned on Sunday that the policy of Islamabad on water distribution was creating a new human crisis in rural parts of the province where farmers were incurring huge losses due to unjust water distribution.
The key members of the provincial cabinet while addressing a press conference here at Committee Room of the Sindh Assembly also vowed that the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government would protest on all relevant forums against the Indus River System Authority (Irsa) and the federal government.
“Irsa has been committing a blatant violation of the Constitution of Pakistan by not acting upon the Water Apportionment Accord of 1991,” said Sindh Irrigation Minister Jam Khan Shoro while addressing the press conference along with Information Minister Saeed Ghani.
“We have been left with no option but to carry out protest against the federal government after Irsa has completely disregarded the Act of the parliament that lays down the procedure for just distribution of river water among the provinces.”
Information Minister Saeed Ghani said that the PPP government had been doing protest against the issue of water shortage in the province as one such protest was scheduled to be held in Karachi on Sunday. However it was postponed due to the sad demise of legendary comedia Umer Sharif.
The irrigation minister informed the journalists that the province had been facing an acute shortage of water as Irsa had not been acting upon the provisions of the water accord.
He said that if in case there was a water shortage in the river system of the country then the same should be managed by Irsa by fully acting upon the water distribution mechanism given in the water accord of 1991.
He said the constitutional forum of the Council of Common Interests (CCI) was available in the country to protect the water rights of a province.
He said that earlier the cotton and paddy crops of Sindh had been devastated as an ‘injustice’ was done to the province by Irsa by denying its due share of water.
He said the province had been facing a 28 per cent water shortage before the sugar cane planting season.
The irrigation minister said that Sindh was supposed to get 14.87 million gallons (MG) of water in accordance with the water accord but they had been told that the province would receive 10.36 MG water for Rabi crops.
He said that severe shortage of water in the current crop season would be a massive injustice to Sindh.
He said Irsa had come into existence on the basis of the water accord that had been signed to ensure that there should not be any injustice to the smaller provinces of the federation in distribution of water.
He said the representatives of Sindh in the previous meeting of the authority had protested against the new water distribution formula adopted by Irsa without consulting the provinces.
The irrigation minister mentioned that earlier a committee constituted by the CCI and led by the then attorney general Anwar Mansoor Khan had also conceded in its report that sheer injustice was being done to Sindh by denying its due water share.
Mr Shoro said the damage suffered by growers in Sindh was not just their own personal losses as it was the collective loss of the country. He said that the province couldn’t use any alternative water source, including subsoil water when it was being supplied with river water in insufficient quantity.
He said that barrages had been built in the province till 1960s as later on there was no progress by the federal government to improve the irrigation network of the province.
The irrigation minister said the provincial government had been fighting the case of water shortage in Sindh in the CCI. He said the PPP founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had constituted the CCI to protect the rights of the smaller provinces.
Published in Dawn, October 4th, 2021