ISLAMABAD - Controversy has erupted between the federal government, provinces and IRSA over the installation of telemetry system on 24 different sites of River Indus, it is learnt reliably here on Sunday.

“Sindh has shown reservations over the installation of telemetry system under the supervision of IRSA and proposed an independent authority to install and operate the telemetry system,” official sources told The Nation.

The issue was discussed here in a meeting regarding capacity building of IRSA held last week in the office of Chief Engineering Adviser/Chairman Federal Flood Commission.

In the meeting Joint Secretary (Water) recorded strong reservation over the contents of the letter written by member IRSA Sindh to the federal government over the issue of installation of telemetry system on River Indus.

In the letter Sindh member IRSA has made remarks against the installation of telemetry system. Chief Engineering Adviser also expressed his reservation over the letter.  The meeting was informed by Director Operation IRSA that all the three provinces shares the position of JS and CEA and disagree with the Sindh demand.

In a letter, written on November 16, 2018, to the federal government Member IRSA from Sindh, said that they had a bad experience over the previous operation of telemetry system. According the Sindh point of view the process of the installation of telemetry system should be handed over to third party and a separate authority should be established to install and run the operation of the telemetry system. However, the other three provinces of Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Balochistan are against the demand made by the Sindh, said the sources.

These provinces are of the view that in the presence of IRSA there is no need of the establishment of new authority to monitor the telemetry system, sources said.

In the meeting, the Ministry of Water Resources also asked IRSA that instead of using World Bank funds for the installation of telemetry system, IRSA should utilise its own funds for the purpose, said the source.

Participants of the meeting were of the view that capacity building of IRSA does not mean the provision of residential colony to IRSA employees rather this relates to the overall technical building of IRSA as an institution so that it can perform its mandated functions with much precision and accuracy to ultimately build confidence among the provinces in water distribution. For that matter, installation of telemetry system on top priority basis was considered as most important national responsibility besides filling in the vacant positions of engineers, noted the meeting. 

IRSA informed the meeting that the loan has already been approved under Water Sector Capacity Building & Advisory Services Project (WCAP) of World Bank where it agreed to fund the telemetry project. Besides Expression of Interest has already been invited for the purpose and firms have been shortlisted, said the sources.

The water regulatory body further asked the Ministry of Water Resource that they have no objection and they should talk to World Bank in this regard, said the source.

The meeting in CEA/CFFC asked IRSA to present its future budget plan keeping in view the installation of telemetry system project out of IRSA’s own funds.  It is pertinent to mention here that the earlier installed telemetry system on River Indus had failed and the Federal government had to scrap it, after spending hundreds of millions of rupees. The telemetry system was installed during Musharraf regime in 2003 at a cost of Rs 320 million, to electronically monitor inflows and outflows at all dams and barrages automatically for ending the differences between the provinces over the distribution of water. But, the system turned out to be faulty and thus failed to deliver the desired results.