ISLAMABAD - The Council of Common Interests has decided to give final approval to the National Water Policy, which has been framed keeping in view the climate changes and rapidly depleting water resources in the country.

The final approval to the policy will be given in the CCI’s next meeting.

The 36th CCI meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, was participated by chief ministers of the provinces - other than Punjab’s which was represented by Provincial Finance Minister Dr Ayesha Ghaus Pasha.

Besides the CMs Syed Murad Ali Shah (Sindh), Pervaiz Khattak (KP) and Abdul Quddus Bizenjo (Balochistan), the chief secretaries of all the provinces, federal secretaries and other senior officials were also present.

Sources informed The Nation that the participants raised serious concerns over the extraordinary delay in construction of Diamer-Bhasha Dam.

A proposal was floated to issue funds through the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) but a participant opposed the idea, arguing the PSDP funds were sometimes not issued on time.

Also, the idea to fund the project through the National Finance Commission (NFC) was presented but was rejected.

All the provinces however unanimously supported the suggestion to implement the National Water Policy (NWP) as soon as possible. Two provinces, including Sindh, proposed the NWP be approved after incorporating some of their suggestions.

Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Sartaj Aziz in a briefing on the NWP draft emphasised that Pakistan was rapidly becoming water-scarce and country’s obligations towards Sustainable Development Goals require adoption of Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM).

The CCI was briefed that the water policy draft includes strategic initiatives which are in line with the National Climate Change Policy 2012.

The meeting was further informed that the draft includes establishment of administrative bodies at the federal and provincial levels, including National Water Council and Provincial Water Authorities, to improve coordination regarding water resource management.

The participants suggested that in case of prime minister’s absence his nominees should be given authority to chair meetings on the water policy.

The finance secretary said various subsidies were being given by the federal government on different commodities. These include subsidy to PASSCO for maintaining strategic wheat reserves, subsidy on essential items through Utility Stores Corporation, Ramzan Relief Package and support for export of wheat and sugar.

Pakistan Alliance for Mathematics and Science, in the meeting, also gave a presentation on the way forward for promoting science and mathematics education in the country.

Census validation

About the 6th national census, conducted in 2017, the CCI meeting reiterated that 5 percent validation exercise shall be undertaken through a third party as per the decision taken at CCI’s Nov 24, 2017 meeting. Statistics division secretary presented an update on the validation exercise.

Earlier, the 34th CCI meeting had accepted the PPP and MQM-P demand for the third-party audit of five per cent census blocks. A Senate committee led by Raja Zafarul Haq had raised serious objections over hiring of a third party for the validation of census blocks.

A proposal was floated to engage the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics to involve demographers to validate the census; therefore, the PBS had referred the matter to the CCI.