Sunday March 26, 2023

KBD can ensure Sindh its water share: Punjab

December 12, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Punjab has told Sindh that water distribution as per para-2 of the Water Apportionment Accord (WAA)1991 can only be implemented if Kalabagh Dam along with Diamer-Bahsha dam is constructed which will ensure the water supply of 114.35 MAF in the country.

Punjab argued that Tarbela Dam has lost its capacity to store water up to 3.5 MAF on account of the silt deposited in the dam portion and Diamer-Bhasha Dam (DBD) will not provide the country the required additional storage capacity as incase its construction start by now, it will take 10-11 years to get completed and by that time Tarbela’s storage capacity will further diminish with more deposition of the silt. When the DBD is in place, Tarbela Dam will lose the water storage capacity by over 4 MAF. So with construction of DBD, the required additional storage capacity will not be attainted.

Punjab said that construction of Kalabagh dam is the only recipe to attain the required additional storage capacity of the country and once it is done, the water distribution is possible as per para-2 of the Accord as country will have every year water quantity of 114.35 MAF. Punjab also referred to the Council of Common Interests (CCI) meeting held on September 16, 1991, in which it was concluded that construction of water storages will ensure the supply of water up to 144.35 MAF and without the erection of mega dams, the figure of required water supply cannot be attained.

Punjab has come with this stance in the very high level meeting held on December 4 in Islamabad chaired by Attorney General of Pakistan Anwar Mansoor and attended by Chief Minister Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah, Federal Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda, Additional Secretary Inter Provincial Committee (IPC), a senior official told The News. Mohammad Mohsin Khan Leghari, Provincial Punjab Irrigation Minister, and MH Siddiqui Adviser to Punjab Irrigation department represented Punjab, KP secretary irrigation, Balochistan secretary irrigation, Irsa Chairman along with members of the water regulator also participated the meeting.

The debate on water distribution, officials said, at one time got heated up and Attorney General left the meeting saying provinces should send him the written stances so that he could furnish his recommendation for CCI meeting. Punjab also expressed its apprehension when Attorney General said he himself will interpret the para-2 and 14-B of the water accord saying proceedings that led to the Water Accord should be kept in the mind. An official said in the meeting, some voices also objected to the Sindh Chief Minister sitting close to the Attorny General, arguing he is the party to the dispute but they were told that since he is chief minister he can’t say to sit away from him.

The Sindh government, the official said, headed by Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has been demanding that his province is not being given its share as per para-2 of the water Accord resultantly the province is facing the famine like situation in its various areas. In the meeting, Sindh sought the water distribution as per para-2 of the water accord without the exemption of two provinces (KP and Balochistan) from the water shortages. Balochistan supported the view point of Sindh.

Irsa said in the absence of the major water storages, the application for the existing three-tier formula for water distribution should continue along with exemption of two provinces –KP and Balochistan from water shortages.

MH Siddiqui, adviser to Punjab Irrigation Department, confirmed that Punjab has opposed the Sindh saying it is possible only when country has the water supplies of 114.35 MAF and this is possible only when two mega dams are constructed. He said Diamer-Bhasha Dam will not make a difference as when it is in place the storage capacity of Tarbela Dam will be lost by over 4 MAF. He said DBD will not provide the required additional water storage. He also confirmed that Punjab in the December 4 meeting demanded to construct the Kalabagh Dam to attain the required additional water storage capacity ensuring the water distribution of 114.35 MAF water as per para-2 of Accord being demanded by Sindh. Siddiqui said that provincial water shares have been allocated under Para-2, Para- 3 and Para 4 of the Water Accord.

And Para-14 deals with water distribution mechanism, whereas Para-2 deals with water distribution when water supplies are available at 114.35 MAF, Para-3 deals with exemption of water shortages for KPK and Balochistan and para-4 deals with water distribution of the flood supplies.

Siddiqui said that average water uses of 1977-82 are the benchmark for future regulation pattern. Under average water uses of 1977-82, water of 102.71 MAF is distributed and if the same amount of water is distributed as per para-2, then Punjab will face 8 percent water deficit more. He said Punjab as per water accord, existing water uses will remain protected.

He said that Punjab, KP and Irsa have submitted their written stances with Attorney General’s office and Sindh and Balochistan are yet to submit their written inputs. Sindh and KP said the existing "Three-Tier Formula" of water distribution between provinces is contrary to the spirit of Water Accord of 1991, a consensus document. Sindh stated that the Water Accord of 1991 is final and should be implemented in letter and spirit and water sharing amongst provinces should be in accordance with the Accord.