In recent days, the party ruling Sindh i.e. PPP has been complaining of shortage of irrigation water in the province. The National Assembly Committee on Water Resources at a meeting on Monday after looking into various aspects of the issue recommended that the Indus River System Authority (Irsa) should appoint inspectors to spot-check the water situation in the Indus. The meeting, presided over by NA Panel Chairman Nawab Yousuf Talpur, was attended by irrigation ministers of Sindh and Punjab, the Irsa chairman and officials of other relevant departments.
Following the complaints of water shortage in Sindh by the provincial government, the Punjab irrigation department had asked Irsa to take steps to control the considerable waste of water between Taunsa and Kotri barrages so as to overcome the shortage of irrigation water. It also sought independent monitoring of barrages in Punjab and Sindh with the aim of ensuring correct measurements of water discharge. The committee recommended that representatives of the Punjab and Sindh irrigation departments and Irsa should discuss the issue and take measures to stop wastage of water. The Senate panel was apprised that water was being distributed in line with the Water Apportionment Accord 1991.
Even as the NA committee meeting was being held on Monday, the Sindh Assembly adopted a resolution on the prevailing water shortage in the province. The resolution criticised Irsa and Punjab for insufficient irrigation water in Sindh, saying crops on large tracts of lands could not be sown due to lack of water. There have also been complaints that the sea has gobbled up thousands of acres of agricultural land in Thatta as river water does not reach there.
Issues concerning implementation of the 1991 water distribution agreement did crop up sometimes but the controversies have always been settled to the satisfaction of all parties concerned. This time around too we hope that issues will be resolved amicably. Waste of water in a water-deficient country is a grave issue and needs to be tackled with urgency.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 26th, 2021.