The Senate Standing Committee on Water Resources was held on Monday under the Chairmanship of Senator Shammim Afridi and was attended by Senator Sana Jamali, Senator Muhammad Sabir Shah, Senator Muhammad Yousaf Badini, Senator Muhammad Usman Khan Kakar, Senator Gianchand, Senator Dr. Jehanzed Jamaldini, Senator Syed Muzaffar Hussain Shah and senior officers of Indus River System Authority (IRSA) and Chairman Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA). The Committee pondered over issues of water scarcity pertaining to Pakistan, especially in the context of Sindh and Balochistan.
Senator Muzaffar Hussain Shah was of the view that Sindh has incurred 31 percent of agricultural losses due to water scarcity in the province. He stressed the need to address certain issues that were essential in the context of water scarcity in Pakistan. Senator Shah stated that the Indus Water Apportionment Accord of 1991 was signed by him when he represented Sindh as Chief Minister in 1991. He asserted that as per the Accord the need to check sea intrusion and ensure minimum escapage below Kotri was emphasized. Sindh held the view that the optimum level was 10 MAF which was discussed at length while other studies indicated lower or higher figures. It was therefore decided that further studies would be undertaken to establish minimum escapage. Senator Shah showed displeasure and questioned IRSA about the reason why in 28 years had this study have not been conducted. He stated that Sindh has suffered miserably as a result of this delay and today almost 31 billion acres of land has been destroyed in Thatta and Badin due to sea intrusion. He asserted that the Committee be informed of how many cusecs of water was available in the system during the months of March, April and May and the amount of water that had been delegated to Sindh. He questioned the reason for flood canals being opened in the wake of acute water shortage in Sindh. He also question why under the same circumstances was Mangla filled.
Senator Jamaldini while asserting that the situation in Sindh was extremely critical said that the plight of Balochistan cannot be ignored. He suggested that Chairman WAPDA must conceive two dams for Balochistan so that the acute water shortage issue is addressed in the province. He also suggested that senior officers from the National Water Commission be invited in the next meeting.
Senator Jan Jamali, who is a retired member of Senate was a special invitee. Senator Jamali was of the view that in the near future only a water secure country would be a food secure country. Pointing out the seriousness of the matter and its internal repercussions, he asserted that if this matter is not dealt in an effective manner, interprovincial harmony is at stake.
Chairman WAPDA Lt. Gen Muzammil Hussain said that the questions being asked by the revered Committee did not pertain to either of the agencies present. He said that these were political and policy issues that IRSA and WAPDA being executing agencies do not have the power to address. He asserted that if a day long session is called 99 percent questions asked by the Committee would be addressed. He asserted that if any progress is to be made, it is imperative that WAPDA reports directly to the Prime Minister and is questioned about the progress of each project every week. He further added that this was the only way forward to make any progress. Chairman Committee, Senator Shammim Afridi directed Chairman WAPDA to send his recommendations to the Committee in writing at the earliest. Meanwhile IRSA officers were also directed to answer the queries in writing raised by Senator Muzaffar Hussain Shah within ten days.