Sindh asks for appointing its man as Irsa federal member

ISLAMABAD – Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah has asked the federal government to appoint Sindh’s nominee as federal member of Indus River System Authority (Irsa).

In a letter to Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Sindh CM has asked for appointing Sindh domiciled Syed Zahir Hyder as Irsa federal member, as per a decision taken by Muhsarraf government in year 2000.

According to Chapter II of Indus River System Authority Act-1992, the Authority consists of five members, one each to be nominated by each province and one by the federal government.

The post of the federal member has been lying vacant for last seven years, and a previous name proposed by Sindh for the post was rejected by the Centre.

Sindh chief minister’s letter reads: “As per the para 1 (c) of the decision of the competent authority, as communicated by the Chief Executive Secretariat Islamabad vide its letter No.CES U.O.No.400(134) C-1/CES/2000, future Irsa federal member will be appointed from Sindh.”

According the letter available with The Nation, the decision was taken with a view to bringing about improvement in Irsa setup and after due deliberation it was acknowledged that the federal member of the Authority should be from Sindh owing to the critically important status of the province in the Indus river system, on account of its distinctive agriculture, climate and geographical factors.

The letter further asked the PM that it would be highly appreciated by the people of Sindh if the recommendation sent by Sindh government for appointment of [retired chief engineer] Zahir Hyder is approved.

As per Irsa Act, the term of office of the chairman is one year while that of a member three years and the members are eligible for re-appointment for one or more terms.

The law states that the chairmanship will be based on rotations. As per the rule, in the absence of a member representing a province, the secretary and irrigation department of the province shall represent that province in Irsa. In the absence of a member nominated by the federal government, the chief engineering adviser or his nominee shall represent the federal government.

The post of the federal member has been lying vacant since 2010 and Federal Flood Commission (FFC) chairman was representing the federation on adhoc basis. Due to the retirement of the FFC chairman in June, the charge of federal member was handed over to a senior official of the FFC for three months and it expired in September.

Earlier, Sindh had proposed the name of Ghulam Abbas Leghari as federal member but it was rejected by the central government. In October, Sindh proposed the name of Zahir Hyder for appointment as federal member and the proposal is still awaiting response from Islamabad.

The term of Irsa chairman, who was also a Sindh member, expired on October 18 and the federal member was supposed to replace him on October 19. However, in absence of federal member, Balochistan member took over the charge of the chairmanship.

On the basis of the rule of rotation, Balochistan was supposed to take over the chairmanship charge in October 2018 but since there was no representative of the federal government to take its turn, the outgoing chairman was replaced by Balochistan Member Sherzaman.

Now if the federal government failed to appoint its member, Sherzaman will continue until his province’s term, which means that Balochistan will enjoy two terms of chairmanship.

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