ISLAMABAD - Instead of a federal member, a representative of Balochistan has taken over chairmanship of Irsa as the post of federal member in the water regulatory body has been lying vacant for the last seven years.

Federal member was supposed to take over on October 19 as chairman of the Irsa on rotational basis but since there is no federal representative in the water regulatory body, therefore, the charge was handed over to member Balochistan, an official source told The Nation here Wednesday. The post of permanent federal member in Irsa has been lying vacant since 2010.

In 2000 the then Chief Executive of Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf had issued the directives that the next Federal Member in IRSA would be Sindh domicile- holders.

It was a political move aimed at appeasing Sindhis for getting their support for the controversial Kalabagh Dam, the official added. Now the federal government is not ready to give the post to the Sindh origin member and resultantly it is lying vacant, the official said.

He said in 2014 Sindh had proposed the name of Ghulam Abbas Leghari as federal member but it was rejected by the central government. On October 12, 2017 Sindh proposed another name of Syed Zaheer Hyder Shah, a retired chief engineer, for appointment as federal member IRSA from Sindh province and is still waiting response from Islamabad.

According to Chapter II of Indus River System Authority Act, 1992, “The Authority shall consist of five members, one each to be nominated by each province and the federal government from amongst high-ranking engineers in irrigation or related engineering fields”. The act further said that the term of office of the chairman shall be one year while that of a member three years and any member shall be eligible for re-appointment for one or more terms or of such shorter term as the provincial government or, as the case may be, the federal government may decide. 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 was expired in September.

The term of chairman IRSA, who is also member Sindh, was expired on October 18 and the federal member was supposed to replace him on October 19, the official said. In absence of member federal, Balochistan took over the charge of chairmanship, he added. On the basis 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 takeover its turn, therefore the outgoing chairman was replaced by Sherzaman, Member Balochistan, the official maintained. Now if the federal government failed to appoint its member then Sherzaman will continue until his province’s term, which means that Balochistan will enjoy two terms, he added.