After repeated complaints from Balochistan, the Indus River System Authority on Friday asked Sindh to ensure provision of the drought-affected provinces’ share of water immediately. This is not the first time the government body has intervened; Balochistan has raised these concerns time and time again over the past few years, maintaining that Sindh retains the bulk of the water allotted to its neighbouring province. ISRAs intervention however has yet to bear any results in providing Balochistan with its full share of water.

While IRSA maintains that it has been releasing waters for Sindh and Balochistan provinces even more than their indents to encompass conveyance losses, Balochistan asserts that it receives almost 50 per cent less water than its demand. That has resulted in losses of around Rs93 billion to the province. More than quarter of a million acres of land will remain barren after not receiving water for irrigating land. The land is located in the Pat Feeder Command area in Naseerabad Division, the canal irrigating region considered the food growing area of Balochistan. The canal water shortage is expected to make the province food deficit in the coming months as vast track of land will remain un-irrigated and dry. The control of these canals lie with the Sindh Irrigation Officials in the upper reaches of the Indus River System.

Balochistan as the tail ender of the Indus already receives less water than its counterparts. With Sindh withholding the bulk of the water resources the water shortage will lead to an acute food deficit in the province.

IRSA’s repeated appeals to the neighbouring province have fallen on deaf ears. Maybe it is high time that the federal government takes more concrete steps to ensure that Balochistan gets its fair share of resources.

As the backbone of the CPEC, Balochistan’s water shortage will be a huge consideration in the upcoming development project. The shortage of drinking water in CPECs base city Gwadar itself has reduced the locals to purchasing overpriced potable water from a burgeoning tanker mafia (USD 115 to 140) per tanker or wait for the government subsidized water transported from 80 kilometers away.

It remains to be seen whether CPEC will be the boon for Balochistan that stakeholders claim it to be. It could transpire that CPECs infrastructural demands behoove the federal government to ensure proper water provision to the province. Or it is more likely that this acute water crisis becomes further aggravated as CPEC and its projects become aggressive contenders for the scant water resources the province and its people are trying to salvage.