ISLAMABAD - The government has reconstituted committee under the Attorney General of Pakistan to resolve the issues pertaining to the water distribution among the provinces and make recommendations concerning the Water Accord, 1991.

Following the instructions of the Council of Common Interests (CCI) the government had sought nomination from the provinces to constitute a committee under the Attorney General of Pakistan which will hold its maiden meeting tomorrow, official source told The Nation yesterday.

The CCI in its meeting held on August 6, 2020, had directed the government to reconstitute the committee under Attorney General for Pakistan which would have equal number of representatives from all provinces.

The committee will firm up its recommendations within one month of its notification and submit its report to CCI, the council further directed.

During the meeting, the CCI was informed the Council its  41st  meeting had decided that a committee should be formed comprising relevant technical experts of federal and provincial governments, Attorney General for Pakistan and respective Advocate Generals for fair distribution of water among the provinces. The Council also decided that a telemetry system should also be introduced immediately to ensure the actual quantity of water in reservoirs and its release to the provinces. Secretary IPC shall seek nominations from all stakeholders and submit it for orders of the Chairman CCI/PM.

The Secretary CCI further informed that with the approval of the Prime Minister, the Committee was notified on 29th July, 2020. For installation of Telemetry System, consultative meetings were convened with all stakeholders. The project will be executed by WAPDA in two phases and it will continue O&M for three years, excluding defect liability period, after successful installation, testing & commissioning.

Earlier, the Sindh Chief Minister had raised his concern over the inordinate delay in notifying the committee. He mentioned that during the 41st  CCI meeting held on 23rd December 2019 the recommendations of Attorney General of Pakistan were deliberated at length, however, the CCI constituted another committee of technical experts from federal & provincial governments wherein only one member was included from Sindh and Balochistan which is not justified because these were more concerned parties being the lower riparian. 

He demanded that there should be equal number of representatives from each province in the committee and one-month time should be given to the committee to submit its report. He further remarked that distribution of water and telemetry system are two separate issues. 

The Water Resources Division explained that there were issues with the installation of telemetry system to be undertaken by lRSA and now WAPDA would undertake to install this. He further elaborated that this should not be done in haste because there are 24 sites in the Indus River System where 6000-7000 sensors would have to be installed whose correct recording values were most critical for measuring of water passing through the sites which could be affected even due to the short of power supply and loadshedding problems as it was evidenced in the previously system in 2002 which did not deliver.

The Minister for Irrigation Punjab mentioned that there are 10 clauses in the Water Accord which relate to development of water resources and at present there was only 102 MAF which was available for division amongst the provinces but it was actually based on the availability of 114 MAF water which was only a hypothetical figure. If new reservoirs are not built then the implementation of Water Accord will be jeopardized. Due to this situation of basing the division of water on availability of hypothetical 114 MAF Punjab is getting 49% share and thus losing 4% of its due share. The minister explained that the 114 MAF will only be available for division amongst the provinces when the reservoirs are built.

The Sindh Chief Minister, however, rejected the Punjab’s minister argument saying that it was not mentioned in the Water Accord anywhere that division of water would be done once reservoirs were constructed and clause 6 of the Water Accord being referred to was not linked to building water storages. He further stressed that the Committee should be constituted under the AGP at the earliest to sort of the issues mentioned in Clause 14(b) of the Water Accord.

Now a committee under AGP will have equal representation and it is mandated to report to CCI within one month.

It is pertinent to mention here that in June 2018, the Council of Common Interests (CCI) had constituted an Inter-Provincial Committee headed by Attorney General of Pakistan to look into the issues of water availability and distribution in the country in view of the dispute between Punjab and Sindh over the water distribution.

However, IRSA had rejected recommendations of AG’s committee. Except Sindh, all the four members of IRSA including Punjab, Balochistan, Khyhber Paktunkhwa and the federal government have opposed the attorney general’s recommendations on the Water Accord 1991.