Lahore - Punjab may lose its water share up to 4maf if the provinces agree to a proposal floated by Sindh during a meeting called by the Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP).

The meeting is being held to resolve the water dispute among provinces.

Sindh has floated a proposal that the share of the provinces should be according to 114 maf water. But, actually average water available in the Indus Basin System is 102.73maf.

Federal Minister Faisal Vawda, CMs of all the provinces, advocate generals and IRSA members along with technical people may have a meeting of the CCI’s committee on water issues on December 4 to 5 in Islamabad. The AGP has already sought written arguments from the provinces. Earlier, the meeting was to be held on 15th November and Punjab government owning to Senate election on this day sought postponement.

1991 Water Apportionment Accord was approved by the Council of Common Interests (CCI). According to that accord, there was no room for further allocation of water. Its spirit was to increase the share of water of the smaller provinces by construction of new reservoirs. It is to be recalled that a water accord was signed in 1991 and a formula was approved. In 1992 IRSA was established and in 1994 in ministers meeting it was decided to distribute water according to the historical uses and para 14 B covers the historical uses of water.

On one hand Sindh has been strongly opposing the construction of reservoirs including Kalabagh Dam. But now the Sindh government has started claiming more water. The water was allotted to all the provinces including Punjab as per average system use. If Sindh succeeds, Punjab will lose its 4 maf water annually having economic impact of over Rs 400 billion.

Official sources in the water ministry said that there was a 14-B formula which was agreed upon by the federal ministry of water and power and all the four irrigation departments. But General Pervez Musharruf, after taking over, nullified this after he took over. He termed that when IRSA was there, there was no need of new formulas. However, later during 2003, a new mode of three tier was introduced by the IRSA on water distribution.

According to Para 14-B of the accord, Punjab share is 54.51 maf while according to Para 2 it is 55.94 MAF, Sindh’s share is 43.53 MAF and 48.76 MAF, Balochistan’s 1.63 maf and 3.87 maf, KPK’s 3.06 maf and 5.78 maf. Thus, total water available as per Para 14-B is 102.73 maf while Para 2 is 114.35 maf. If water is distributed as proposed by Sindh following Para 2, the water needed in system should be 114.35 maf which was not. Thus the difference for all the provinces may be 1.43 MAF for Punjab, 5.23 MAF for Sindh, 2.24 MAF for Balochistan, 2.72 maf for KP.

The 2003 formula was in practice but Sindh approached the CCI against this formula during PML-N Shahid Khaqan Abbasi regime. Abbasi had referred the matter to AGP in 2017. In 2018, the AGP called the meeting and asked comments from provinces through their representatives.

The Sindh government has decided to send CM Murad Ali Shah as their representative in the AGP meeting. Earlier, it had nominated its Chief Engineer Rafique Deeder. Then it was decided to call all the CMs to attend the meetings.

It merits mentioning here that Sindh has already demanded 1,200 cusec water supply for Karachi. However, representatives of other provinces have opposed the proposal. The Sindh government had rejected Punjab’s proposal to supply 200 cusecs of water to Rawalpindi. However, the matter could be taken again by the National Water Council. Balochistan has also leveled allegations against Sindh government for not providing its due share.

Balochistan gets its share from Sindh Barrages. Poor canal system conveys very low volume to Balochistan. However, the largest province may demand of the CCI to construct separate canals for Balochistan’s from Indus basin system.

Official sources further said that according to water policy there are about 46 MAF per year water loss that should be reduced by 33pc by 2030. The CCI and National Water Council under the chairmanship of the PM Imran Khan is expected to resolve longstanding disputes among the provinces.

Speaking on alleged irregularities in provision of water to Sindh, Faisal Wadah claimed in the National Assembly that PML-N government had deprived the Sindh province of its due water share by switching off the telemeters.

The coming meetings on water issues would be a test case for the new PTI government and Wauda a to weigh justice keeping them aloof of any previous affiliations for political gai.