ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary panel on Wednesday asked the Sindh and Balochistan governments to clear their Rs1.752 billion outstanding dues to the Hub Dam management on account of water charges.

A meeting of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Water Resources, presided over by Nawab Mohammad Yousaf Talpur, was informed by the water resources ministry that Hub Dam was built by the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) in 1981 and it was decided that 66.67 per cent of the construction cost would be paid by the Sindh government and 33.33pc by the Balochistan government.

However, since then the two provinces have not paid their dues. It was reported that water of Hub Dam was provided to both Sindh and Balochistan according to 1:2 ratio, but the two provinces were not paying water costs to the administration of Hub Dam. Hence, the repair and maintenance work of Hub Dam was being delayed.

The committee was informed that outstanding dues against Sindh stood at Rs1.211bn while Rs541.525 million was payable by Balochistan. It was informed that Hub Dam was situated in the coastal area and any cyclone or hard weather conditions could damage the dam. Therefore, it is necessary that both provinces cleared their dues to the Hub Dam authorities so that necessary repair and maintenance could be carried out.

The committee directed the two provinces to pay their liabilities to the Hub Dam authorities within 30 days. Otherwise, it said, the finance ministry would be directed at the next meeting to deduct the amounts at source and pay to the Hub Dam authorities. The committee also directed that letters to the chief ministers of both provinces be written in this regard.

The committee was briefed by the Indus River System Authority (Irsa) on the provision of water to the provinces during the Rabi season. Irsa Chairman Zahid Junejo told the meeting that Balochistan had received 5pc less water than its share during the Rabi season, while Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab respectively received 14pc and 1pc more water than their approved share. Sindh received water as per the share during the season.

Indus Water Commissioner Syed Mehr Ali Shah informed the meeting that the 117th meeting of Pakistan-India water commissioners was likely to be held by March 31. However, he said no confirmation had been received from the Indian side in writing in this regard.

Published in Dawn, February 10th, 2022

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