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October 9, 2019

Murad calls for CCI meeting to resolve Sindh’s persisting water woes


October 9, 2019

Sindh’s chief minister has urged the federal government to convene a meeting of the Council of Common Interests (CCI) in accordance with the Constitution to discuss a report prepared by Pakistan’s attorney general that can help resolve the long-standing water woes of the farmers and residents of the province.

Speaking on the floor of the provincial assembly on Tuesday, CM Syed Murad Ali Shah said the Centre has been violating the Constitution by not convening even a single meeting of the CCI in the past 11 months, as a CCI meeting should be held every 90 days according to the Constitution.

The chief executive said that delaying the session of the CCI is tantamount to trampling upon the rights of the provinces. He said a CCI meeting should be convened at the earliest to take a decision over a report on the water sharing disputes between Sindh and Punjab under the regime of the Indus River System Authority (Irsa).

Shah informed the House that a CCI meeting held last year had formed a high-powered committee under the attorney general to look into the issues of water sharing between the provinces in accordance with the Water Accord of 1991.

He said the attorney general has prepared his report and a discussion on it and its approval by the CCI has been pending for the past several months. He added that a discussion on the report will help resolve Sindh’s water woes that have been persisting for the past 20 years.

“The water issue is very dear to us, as it is not just the issue of the agriculturists of the province but also the issue of the residents of Sindh who need water for their consumption. Karachi has also been facing a water shortage since long.”

He said Karachi needs a higher share in water for the second and third phases of the K-IV project. “We provided water for the first phase of the K-IV project from our own share, but certainly the city needs more share of water for the next phases.”

He urged the prime minister to appoint the Centre’s representative for Irsa from Sindh as was done since 2000. He said that according to news reports, the Ministry of Water Resources has sent a summary to the PM for appointing the federal government’s representative in Irsa who does not belong to Sindh.

Shah said the Centre’s representative who used to sit on Irsa had always been from Sindh, even during dictatorial regimes, so the practice should continue, especially when the federal minister for water resources hailed from the province, while the PM had also contested the general elections from Sindh.

The CM expressed his reservations over the sudden promulgation of an ordinance for establishing an authority for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects in the country before the PM’s visit to China.

He said that at present, he did not know about the composition of the CPEC authority, but if it did not have ample representation from Sindh, he would certainly speak on the issue. He also said the Centre has not been consulting with the provinces about several developmental issues that have to be handled by every province in accordance with the Constitution. For instance, he said, coal is a provincial issue, but the PM had left for China to discuss coal-based projects for the country without consulting with the provinces.

He said the CCI has to deal with the items given in Part-II of the Federal Legislative List of the Constitution, adding that delaying the session of the council means these items are not being dealt with in a proper manner at the cost of the provinces.

K-IV project

The PA unanimously passed a private resolution moved by the PTI’s Adeel Ahmed urging the government to take punitive action against the departments and individuals responsible for the ill-planning and faulty execution of the long-delayed K-IV bulk water supply project.

Opposition leader Firdous Shamim Naqvi of the PTI said the KWSB is replete with defects and an emergency has been imposed on the water utility. He said Karachi is like a jewel in the crown of Sindh, and its residents should not be made to suffer due to acute water shortage.

He said water shortage is not a political problem but a human issue. He added that the K-IV project should be salvaged so that the city’s residents get the dearly required additional water. The resolution’s mover, MPA Ahmed, said serious technical defects have been pointed out in the plan envisaged for constructing the K-IV project. He said that 11 long years had passed but the project still could not be completed, showing the sheer inefficiency of the Sindh government.

He said Karachi’s elected representatives had serious reservations over the persistent water woes of the city, as either there was no potable water available to its residents or filthy water was being supplied to them.

LG Minister Nasir Hussain Shah said the ruling PPP wants the K-IV project to be completed at the earliest. He suggested that the opposition leader become part of the committee that would investigate into the affairs of the K-IV project so that if there is any mala fide intention on the part of the ruling party, it can be exposed.

Child marriages

During the question hour, Women Development Minister Shehla Raza said the government has been able to prevent 58 cases of underage marriages in the province, adding that her department has been working with the help of NGOs. She said committees have been formed at district level to prevent such cases in the province.