Islamabad      -      National Assembly Standing Committee on Water Resources Friday questioned the IRSA’s power of issuing NOC for the construction of Hydropower project on Chashma Jhelum Link Canal and directed the Ministry of Water Resources to refer the matter to next meeting of CCI expected on December 11.

 The National Assembly Standing Committee on Water Resources held under the chairmanship of Muhammad Yousaf Talpur was informed that Rs12 billion has been collected in Diamer Bahsha and Mohmand dam fund and the money is with the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

 The committee discussed construction of 25 MW hydropower project on Chashma Jhelum Link Canal, Diamir Bhasha and Mohmand Dam Fund, and master plan for water conservation.

Yousaf Talpur said that Sindh government has strong objection to the construction of 25 MW hydropower project on Chashma Jhelum Link Canal. Chief Minister Sindh has also objected to the project, he maintained.

Ali Nawaz Awan said that the matter should be referred to the Council of Common Interests. The committee was informed that CCI is scheduled for December 11. Maryam Aurangzeb said that hydropower project on Chashma Jhelum Link Canal has become controversial and should be forwarded to CCI.

Member of the committee Riaz-ul-Haq said that it was proposed that the matter of hydropower project on Chashma Jhelum Link Canal will go to CCI.

 Federal Secretary Water Resources Mohammad Ashraf said that project is being built on Punjab’s share of water and every province has the right to put hydroelectric power on the waters of its territory. The Federal Secretary said that he is not in favor of taking the Chashma Jhelum Link Canal project to the CCI.

Secretary Irrigation Sindh said that they would take this matter to the CCI. Punjab Minister for irrigation said that the province is making the project on its own water and will not use a drop of water from hydropower project on Chashma Jhelum Link Canal of any province. Maryam Aurangzeb said that now the project has become controversial and it should be forwarded to the CCI.

Secretary Irrigation Punjab said that if anyone is concerned about water theft, install telemetry system on water reservoir. He further questioned why IRSA not install telemetry system. He said that the telemetry system should be installed at Chashma and Tarbela and at other locations as well.

 Federal Secretary Water Resource said that it is the responsibility of IRSA to install telemetery system. Despite federal funding IRSA delayed telemetry system. “We are now withdrawing these funds from IRSA said the Secretary, adding that now IRSA has to install telemetry system with its own funds which are about Rs 600 million.

 Official of Sindh Irrigation Department said that it is not IRSA’s job to issue NOC for power project on Chashma Jhelum Link Canal. Punjab also has underground water, while Sindh depends only on the Indus River, he added. The committee did not confirmed the minutes of its previous meeting held on 6th November, 2019 and directed the Ministry of Water Resources to take up the issue of Hydropower project, on Cashma Jhelum Link Canal in the next meeting of CCI.

The Committee discussed the Diamer/Basha and Mohmand Dams fund and the Ministry of Water Resources explained their position. WAPDA officials informed the committee that Diamer Bhasha Dam would generate 4500 MW electricity and would be completed in eight and a half years. The committee was informed that Rs 12 billion has been collected in Diamer Bahsha and Mohmand dam fund and the money is with the Supreme Court.

The committee decided to write to PEMRA for details on the duration and cost of running advertisements for dams’ fund.

Khwaja Muhammad Asif said that the Supreme Court should be written for that dams funds should be transferred. Free publicity was carried for Dam Funds. The publicity was for the dam funds or for someone else, he raised question. However, the Committee directed that latest position of the funds deposited for these Dams and the expenditure incurred on advertisement through electronic and print media be provided in detail to the Committee in the next meeting.

The TV Channels were scared of former Chief Justice and that’s why they would run free advertisements of dam fund, he maintained. He said that why there is no free advertisement for water, electricity and gas savings.

He further said that in Punjab, a company buys water for crores of rupees and sells for Rs55 billion. Wastage of water should be discouraged. Further the price of water should be fixed in order to stop its wastage.

The Committee also discussed the issue of conservation of water and directed the Ministry to make perfect mechanism for supply and demand aspects of water and directed IRSA to install telemeter on the main rivers’ head works in this regard and a thorough report be presented to the committee in the next meeting.   WAPDA officials while briefing the committee said that a master plan has been chalked out to build 30 million acre feet of new water storage facilities in next 30 years.

 Under short-term water storage capacity is to be increased by 10 million acre feet by 2023. WAPDA officials said under medium-term plan from 2030 to 2040 water storage capacity to be increased by ten million acre feet and would build up to 10 million acre feet of water storage facility by 2050.

 The Committee also discussed the irrigated water resource management issue and recommended that sufficient funds be allocated for this purpose to all the Provinces and grass root public awareness be started through seminars and electronic/print media in which the importance of clean water should be highlighted to the nation.