Turning away from what usually becomes a back-and-forth blame game, Pakistan’s water regulator has come out defending India, saying the neighbours are not responsible for water shortage on this side of the border.
While dismissing widespread reports blaming the neighbours, Indus River System Authority (Irsa) Chairman Rao Irshad Ali said India was using less than its allocated share under the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) signed between the two countries.
Ali made the disclosure in a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Water and Power chaired by Senator Iqbal Zafar Jhagra here on Thursday.
Media reports have put the blame on India for grabbing more than its allocated share, depriving Pakistan of the much-needed necessity. The two countries, engaged in a number of battles on various topics, have also been arguing about the water issue, building their arguments on controversial dams built by India on Pakistani rivers.
However, Ali said the media reports are “propaganda”.
“Reports in media about India getting more water is a propaganda. India is using water only to produce electricity,” he said, adding that the neighbours are getting less compared to their allocated share of water.
Building the case for dams
Meanwhile, Ali said the province would have been getting more water if the government had gone ahead with building the Kalabagh and Diamer-Bhasha dams.
The Senate body was also briefed about the load-shedding issue that has gripped more areas than it has spared in the country.
During the meeting, Minister for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali said uninterrupted power supply was not possible unless the power transmission system was improved. His statement comes a day after he informed the Senate that the menace of load-shedding would end by 2017-18.
On Thursday, he said that culprits involved in power theft in Sukkur and Quetta had turned into a big mafia against which the government had taken action and cut off their electricity supply.
Issue of K-Electric
The standing committee also decided to conduct a performance audit of K-Electric – the power utility mainly responsible for distributing electricity in Karachi – through the Auditor General of Pakistan.
Recently, K-Electric has come under fire after the heatwave in the metropolis was made worse with frequent power breakdowns. While the power utility blamed it on the surge in demand, the public has been less than forgiving after around 1,300 people died due to various reasons as a result of the heatwave.
Pakistan Peoples Party’s Senator Taj Haider said the standing committee should write a letter to the Auditor General of Pakistan to conduct a performance audit of the power utility as the company resists sharing its data with auditors.
The water and power minister added that the agreement between the National Transmission and Despatch Company (NTDC) and K-Electric’s management was to receive 650MW of electricity from the national grid. However, K-Electric was able to receive 950MW and did not switch on its own generators.
“K-Electric, which has to pay Rs100 billion to the federal government, has transferred its own investment abroad and misstated its generation capacity,” he continued.
The minister also complained that power distribution companies resort to stay orders if, and when, the government decides to initiate any sort of action against them.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 10th, 2015.