Regulator warns: Changes to IRSA Act will spark problems

IRSA opposes plan to compensate provinces for sharing surplus water

Our Correspondent February 24, 2016
IRSA opposes plan to compensate provinces for sharing surplus water. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: The Indus River System Authority (Irsa) has warned the federal government that approval of amendments to the Irsa Act for giving monetary compensation to the provinces for sharing their surplus water, will spark a host of problems, officials say.

The warning comes following a proposal from the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government that suggested that a province should compensate the other for consuming its surplus water.

The Council of Common Interests (CCI), which is scheduled to meet on February 29, will take up the matter.

According to officials familiar with the development, a K-P senator had proposed 10 years ago that the province using surplus water of the other should give compensation to the latter.

Already meetings have been held over the issue and now the CCI will discuss it and seek consent of the provinces in its upcoming huddle. Chief ministers of all provinces will attend the meeting.

However, Irsa has opposed the proposal and sent a letter to the federal government warning that it will open a Pandora’s box among provinces.

Pakistan was a water-stressed country, therefore this plan could not be implemented, the regulator said, adding K-P and Balochistan were already exempted from water shortage whereas Punjab and Sindh were sharing the shortage between themselves.

It pointed out that water had been allocated to provinces according to an accord signed by them and the government would have to open the agreement for implementing the proposed plan.

It stressed that Pakistan had no surplus water due to lack of storages and the water went into the sea. In such a situation, the proposed plan could not be adopted.

The CCI will also take up the matter of allocating 200 cusecs of water to Islamabad and Rawalpindi each. Punjab has agreed to provide 200 cusecs for Rawalpindi.

It had been decided in a CCI meeting in March 2015 that provinces would allocate water to Islamabad under Para 4 of the water accord. Under the plan, Punjab will earmark 37% of water, Sindh 37%, Balochistan 12% and K-P 14%.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 25th,  2016.

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