Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said on Sunday that under the 1991 Water Accord, provinces have to share water, whether it is short in supply or in surplus, as per the agreed formula.
“However, during the ongoing Kharif season-2021, Sindh suffered a 35 per cent shortage in the first 10 days and 37.7 per cent shortage in the second 10 days,” he said. On the other hand, he pointed out that Punjab suffered just 17.3 per cent and 16 per cent shortages in the first and second batches of 10 days, respectively.
“As a matter of fact, water shortages would have been shared equally, but just to favour Punjab, more water was provided.”
The CM made this observation when addressing a press conference on two different issues, water shortages in Sindh and the coronavirus situation.
Shah said that in the 1991 Accord, water distribution between the provinces was agreed on a formula. He added that for every 10 days, there was an allocation of water for every province. “In case of shortages or surplus, water would be shared as per the agreed formula,” he said.
Shah said that under the accord, the Indus River System Authority (IRSA) was created to implement the agreement. “Seems it has failed to do its job judiciously,” Shah quipped. “This is an injustice with the people of Sindh and I will be raising my voice against it,” he said.
‘Local leaders involved in water theft’
Meanwhile, opposition leader in the Sindh Assembly, Haleem Adil Sheikh, has claimed that Sindh is receiving more water than its share. He accused provincial ministers and local leaders of being involved in the water theft. “Waderas [feudal lords] and jiyalas [PPP workers] steal water in Sindh and the small growers remain deprived of water,” he alleged at a press conference in Larkana district on Sunday.
The Sindh government claims that it has been receiving up to 37 per cent less water than its share from the Indus river system authority (IRSA). The lower riparian province blames Punjab for stealing its share of water.
Sheikh said the water for small farmers and those at the tail end of the irrigation networks is stolen by the big farmers who are associated with the ruling party in the province. He asserted that IRSA has been releasing more water for Sindh than the province’s share.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 24th, 2021.