ISLAMABAD -  Three out of five Irsa members are working on adhoc basis after the federal government rejected the Sindh government recommendations for the 3rd extension of member Mazhar Ali Shah.

The federal government has rejected a summary of the Sindh government as well as letter of Sindh Chief Minister syed Murad Ali Shah regarding the extension the Irsa member, official source told The Nation. Irsa member Mazhar Ali Shah got retired on June 29 after the completion of his second term and the federal government refused to grant him extension for the third time, saying that he was too old for the job, source informed.

In a letter to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, forwarded through the Ministry of Water and Power, the Sindh chief minister has criticised the dual standard of the federal government regarding the extension criteria. The chief minister argued that on one hand the federal government has granted extension to the 75-year-old member of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Irsa but on the other hand it has denied 3rd time extension to 67-year-old Sindh Irsa member.

He Sindh further said that the new rule for the age limit for the Irsa member was made via an executive order during Musharaf era without the consultation of the provinces. It was decided by cabinet in Musharaf government that the age of member authorities will be less than 65 year and the necessary amendment will be made in the rules of the authorities in this regard. Since no amendment was made in the Irsa’s rule therefore age condition is not applicable, the source said quoting the chief minister.

According to Chapter II of Indus River System Authority Act, 1992, “The Authority shall consist of five members, one each to be nominated by each province and the federal government from amongst high-ranking engineers in Irrigation or related engineering fields”. The act further said that the term of office of the chairman shall be one year and that of a member three years and any member shall be eligible for re-appointment for one or more term or of such shorter term as the provincial government or, as the case may be, the federal government may decide.

In the absence of a member representing a province, the secretary, and Irrigation Department of the province shall represent that province. In the absence of member nominated by the federal government the Chief Engineering Adviser or his nominee shall represent the federal government.

It is pertinent to mention here that earlier a summary moved by the Sindh government for the 3rd time extension of the provincial member Syed Mazhar Ali Shah was also turned down by the federal government and asked the province to appoint a member which is less than 65 years of age. The Ministry of Water and Power has also asked the Punjab to appoint their member with an age of less than 65 years, the source maintained.

The post of Punjab Irsa member which had become vacant due to the retirement of Rao Irshad Ali Khan is currently lying vacant. Similarly, the post of the federal member has been lying vacant since 2010 and the Federal Flood Commission (FFC) chairman was representing the federation on adhoc basis. Due to the retirement of the FFC chairman a senior official of the commission is now looking after the assignment on a temporary basis.

He third post of member becomes vacant on June 29 after the retirement of Mazhar. Now Sindh Irrigation secretary and Punjab are working on adhoc basis.