6,000 cusecs water wasted owing to ‘evaporation’, NA told

Published June 18, 2022
Minister for Water Resources Syed Khursheed Shah addresses the National Assembly on November 6, 2018. —  DawnNewsTV/File
Minister for Water Resources Syed Khursheed Shah addresses the National Assembly on November 6, 2018. — DawnNewsTV/File

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Water Resources Syed Khursheed Shah on Friday stated on the floor of the National Assembly that some 6,000 cusecs of water was being wasted while flowing a distance of 350 kilometres from Sukkur Barrage to Kotri Barrage because of “evaporation”, and at the same time expressed his surprise over missing 20,000 cusecs between Taunsa, the last barrage in Punjab, and Guddu Barrage in Sindh, despite being nearly equidistant from each other.

The statement came from the minister in response to an indirect allegation made by Dr Fehmida Mirza of the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) that some 6,000 cusecs of water went missing between Sukkur and Kotri barrages, the former one lying in the constituency of the minister.

“There is no doubt that presently there is 10,000 [cusecs] water at Kotri Barrage. The mentioned 6,000 [cusecs] is evaporated. This 6,000 [cusecs] is evaporated while covering a distance of 350km and from Taunsa to Guddu; it is 20,000 cusecs which is not understandable,” said Mr Shah.

The minister admitted that there was a shortage of water in the country, but hoped that the current rain spell would increase the water level in dams and rivers. He said they were holding meetings on a daily basis to ensure water supply to the tail-end of Sindh. He assured the house that he would also hold a meeting with the Sindh minister for irrigation to resolve the issue of water supply to farmers of the province.

Mr Shah expressed his pleasure over the recent rains in the country, stating that water inflows had reached 98,000 cusecs at Tarbela and the situation would further improve when it would touch the mark of 130,000 cusecs in the next few days.

Earlier, speaking on a point of order, Fehmida Mirza expressed concern over the acute shortage of water being faced by the areas at the tail-end of Sindh which, according to her, could affect the rice crop.

She expressed her surprise over missing 6,000 cusecs of water at Kotri Barrage, claiming that Sukkur Barrage was discharging 16,000 cusecs whereas Kotri was receiving only 10,000 cusecs. “Where is the remaining 6,000 cusecs of water going?”

Dr Mirza also expressed concern over the increasing prices of petrol and diesel and said two rickshaw drivers had burnt their vehicles in Nawabshah in protest against 85 per cent increase in petroleum prices over the last three weeks.

She suggested that all ministers and chairpersons of parliamentary committees return their fuel cards to the house as done by Saira Bano of the GDA, who is the chairperson of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Poverty Alleviation.

Munawer Ali Talpur of the PPP also raised the issue of water shortage in Sindh.

“We are only witnessing dust in River Indus in down-country Kotri and even Sukkur. We talk about agriculture but where is water?” asked Mr Talpur.

Referring to a recent meeting of the standing committee on water resources, the PPP MNA said it was regrettable that the Sindh minister for irrigation had to walk out of the meeting in protest against water theft. He alleged that there had been no implementation of the 1991 Water Accord signed by the provinces when he was Sindh’s irrigation minister.

The PPP MNA said that when Nawab Yousuf Talpur, who is chairman of the standing committee, was about to speak on the water issue he was prevented by Khursheed Shah from delivering the speech. He was referring to Wednesday’s proceedings when the water resources minister had stopped Mr Talpur from delivering the speech, asking him to do so in the presence of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

Munawer Talpur also opposed the idea of building Kalabagh or any other dam in Punjab, saying it would further deprive Sindh of its water.

Minister Mian Javed Latif said he welcomed Dr Fehmida Mirza’s suggestion that the ministers should not use official vehicles and free fuel facility, but said she should have also criticised former prime minister Imran Khan who spent nearly Rs1 billion only on travelling from his home to the office in a helicopter.

He also asked Dr Mirza to talk about alleged corruption done by the former premier with the help of his wife Bushra Bibi and her friend Farah Khan.

Describing the prevailing economic situation as worst, Mr Latif said he feared that the country could receive a “bad news” anytime.

At the outset of the sitting, Saira Bano took the floor and announced that she had decided not to avail the facility of free fuel, stating that her conscience did not allow her to do so while seeing the people in misery due to an increase in oil prices.

She went to the speaker’s dais and returned her fuel card. She said some rickshaw drivers in Nawabshah had burnt their vehicles which were their sole source of income.

PTI dissident Noor Alam Khan told the house that he had not been using the official vehicle and fuel despite being entitled to it as chairman of the Public Accounts Committee. He said he was even paying for “tea and biscuits” from his own pocket. He also lashed out at PTI chairman Imran Khan for still using helicopter for public meetings and official transport of the KP government for his protests.

The National Assembly will meet on Monday at 4pm.

Published in Dawn, June 18th, 2022

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