ISLAMABAD - The Council of Common Interests yesterday approved the financing of the National Flood Protection phase-IV at a cost of Rs 177.661 billion on an equal basis i.e. 50 percent of the amount would be provided by the Centre while the rest would be pooled by the provincial governments.

The plan with a 10-year span from 2016 to 2026 aims at developing an integrated flood management system by focusing on reservoir operations, flood forecasting and early warning, flood risk zoning, watershed management, flood proofing and insurance, disaster management, and other non-infrastructural measures.

The 31st meeting of the CCI, chaired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, was attended by the chief ministers of the Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, finance, water and power, SAFRON, planning, petroleum, overseas Pakistanis, religious affairs, defence production and climate change ministers.

The prime minister assured the provinces of cooperation in different fields and directed the authorities to complete uplift projects in the stipulated time and ensure transparency. He added the development projects were not completed on time during the tenure of previous governments.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar told the meeting that the ongoing population census would be completed according to the timetable. Officials of the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) also presented a progress report on the census.

It was informed that the first phase of the census had been completed successfully and the second phase was underway in 87 districts. The council expressed satisfaction over the 6th population census conduct.

About an inquiry into corruption charges in the Kachi Canal project, the CCI agreed to give exemplary punishment to the officials involved in the scam.

The CCI directed the provincial representatives to hold a meeting with the federal minister for planning to finalise matters pertaining to higher education and other matters in the post-18th Amendment scenario.

As the Sindh chief minister raised some points on the issue of import of LNG, it was decided that a summary would be circulated to all the provinces to seek their comments and presented before the next CCI meeting.

The Ministry of Climate Change briefed the meeting that consultations with all the provinces on the National Forest Policy, 2015, had been completed. The policy only needed additional technical and expert advice at the federal level as well as coordination with international forums. It was discussed that forests would remain under the control of provincial governments for the purposes of implementation.

The minister for water and power informed the meeting that issues about the settlement of net hydel profit (NHP) between Wapda and the Punjab government had been settled. He said the Wapda had issued a promissory note amounting to Rs 38.12 billion in favour of the Punjab government, while a tariff petition was under review for recovery of NHP arrears from Nepra.

The CCI approved amendments to the “Regulation of Generation, Transmission and Distribution of Electric Power Act, 1997.

The Inter-Provincial Coordination Division secretary briefed the meeting on the implementation status of the decisions taken at the last CCI meeting held on December 16, 2016.

Sources said Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah demanded equal distribution of water for all the provinces. He also expressed reservations over the gas distribution issue.

Shah, a few days back, had demanded the Centre resolve the gas distribution issue, threatening to cut off gas supply from Sindh to the rest of the country.

Sources aware of the deliberations of the CCI meeting and informal meeting of the prime minister with all the four chief ministers ahead of the formal session, the prime minister and the chief ministers agreed to be more interactive for ensuring political stability in the country.

The prime minister assured the chief ministers that they would be given complete autonomy and control over their resources in the light of the 18th Constitutional Amendment.

In the informal huddle, sources revealed, the Sindh chief minister mentioned some of the major concerns of the province, including provision of less water than their stipulated water share under the Water Accord, 1991. Similarly, he raised the issue of provision of gas supply to the people in the province. On all these points, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif assured him full cooperation and support from the federal government, saying all the four provinces were equal before him.