ISLAMABAD - The two-day meeting of the inter-provincial committee, constituted by the CCI to resolve the contentious issue of water distribution among the provinces under Water Accord 1991 will start here today (Tuesday).

The second meeting of the IPC on water will be held in the office of Attorney General to undertake the water distribution issue among the provinces, said a letter of the Attorney General for Pakistan here.

In the meeting to be chaired by the Attorney General for Pakistan, the chief ministers of all provinces have been asked to participate.

The meeting will also be attended by officials of the Ministry of Water Resources, IRSA and provincial irrigation departments. The provinces will present their respective views on legal basis on which distribution might be executed, or the three-tiered formula. Indus River System Authority (IRSA) has been asked to provide the record relating to the formation of Water Accord 1991 at the earliest. 

In its 38th meeting, the Council of Common Interests (CCI) constituted an inter-provincial committee on water headed by Attorney General and comprising the provincial representatives. The committee was tasked to look into the current issues of availability of water and its distribution in the country and present its recommendations for consideration to the CCI.

Sindh has shown concerns on the existing distribution of Indus waters and termed it a gross violation of the Water Apportionment Accord 1991. According to Sindh’s stance, since the approval of Water Accord in 1991 by the CCI, the province had not been getting its share of water. Sindh is of the view that without referring the matter to CCI, IRSA had granted exemption from water shortage to Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. Sindh claims that the existing 3-tier formula adopted by IRSA for distribution of Indus Waters was not part of the Water Accord.

The first meeting of CCI committee on water, held on November 15, was inconclusive; however, the Attorney General has framed 3 terms of reference for the committee. The TORs of the committee are ‘to consider record relating to formation of Water Accord of 1991, to discuss issues relation to available water and distribution and present recommendations to the CCI for necessary action,” said the minutes of the first meeting available with The Nation.

According to the minutes, the first meeting of the committee was told that Punjab was not represented at this meeting, and no substantive discussion might be advanced in the absence of representation from Punjab.

On the issue of water distribution among the provinces, the chief minister of Sindh pointed out that the matter had been conclusively settled but the same was not being implemented. Member IRSA Punjab pointed out that the matter was yet to be conclusively settled, as it has not been decided whether the distribution shall take place according to Para 2, or Para 14 (b) of the Accord, or according to the 3-tiered formula adopted in 2000.

The first meeting of the IPC was held on November 15 with the Attorney General in chair. However, the problem started after the participation of the Sindh chief minister in the meeting. Earlier, chief ministers were not part of the committee and were not supposed to attend the meeting. The provinces were represented by the concerned officials in the committee. However, Sindh has withdrawn the nomination of its adviser on water and nominated Chief Minister Sindh, Murad Ali Shah, for the meeting. After the participation of the CM Sindh, Irrigation Minister Punjab, Mohsin Laghari, requested the committee to postpone the meeting. According to Punjab irrigation minister, since Sindh CM was attending the meeting, therefore all other CMs should also be provided an opportunity to attend the meeting.

Sindh is against distribution of water under 3-tier formula and wants that distribution should be under Para-2 of the Water Accord. In case Sindh’s demand for water distribution under para-2 was adopted by IRSA during the water shortage season, it will increase Sindh’s share by one percent while the share of Punjab will be reduced by 8 percent, said the source.