Islamabad (04th November 2021): Meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Water Resources was held under the chairmanship of Senator Musadik Masood Malik here at the Parliament House on Thursday.
Consideration of the starred question No. 3 regarding details/table of underground water level in every district of Baluchistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa during the last ten years and ascertainment of decrease in water level in the whole country and the steps taken by the Government to cope up with the issue ‘raised by Senator Fida Muhammad in the Senate sitting held on 13th July 2021 were taken up in detail.
At the outset of the meeting, the Chairman Committee showed resentment on the late provision of the working papers from the Ministry and said that it has been requested time and again to the Ministry to send the working papers 4 to 5 days prior to the meeting so that a detailed study can be done on the agenda. Senator Musadik Masood Malik expressed great concern over no development in the water sector over the years. He said that after the 18th amendment water sector was devolved to the provinces however the Federal Government is here to fully support the solutions of the hurdles coming in way of the development, within its constitutional Parameters.
The Chairman Committee while inquiring on the data of the underground water level of all the provinces showed great surprise that how come the water sector is running without having any information on the groundwater data. “Half of the water of Pakistan comes from Gilgit Baltistan but no survey so far has been conducted” The chairman committee raised question on the strength of Human Resource of the water department to which the officials replied that there are 108 staff members, the chairman committee also inquired about the total budget of water department of Gilgit Baltistan to which the committee was informed that 4 Billion Rupees for a project and a budget of 28 Corore rupees have been allocated for the Water sector. The Chairman committee dismayed that even after such a budget the water sector is running without any concrete data in hand. Similarly, the provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh were unable to provide ground water data on which the chairman committee showed great displeasure. Senator Taj Haider ensured the data collection task within 2 weeks from the province of Sindh. The chairman committee said that the Ministry is sending letters for an update but the matter is pending for the last 3 months. The committee unanimously noted that the future of Pakistan in terms of water resources is questionable and steps need to be taken to solve it to provide quantity and quality of water as per the country’s resources to the respective provinces
The officials of the Ministry of Water Resources informed the committee that no groundwater regulatory framework is present in Pakistan. “Everyone anywhere through any system has the liberty to obtain groundwater without any licensing laws or monitoring” The officials informed the committee that they primarily depend on the driller and that they also have capacity issues as well as issues pertaining to data in order to meet the problem of groundwater.
Senator Sardar Shafiq raised question on the performance of PCRWR and enquired about their performance in researching water resources in the country. While talking about Burj Aziz Khan Dam and Mangi Dam, Senator Sardar Shafiq Tareen commented that it is feared that Mangi Dam would provide water only to Quetta Cantt and Burj Aziz Khan would facilitate DHA, if this happens how would the residents of Quetta be provided water? Senator Sardar Shafiq said that the committee must play its active role to solve the problems of water resources in Balochistan.
Senator Dr Muhammad Hamayun Mohmand also inquired about the preservation of rainwater. The officials informed that the flowing water goes in the system but is lost in terms of its utilization. The officials said that the water resources need to be explored. The legal framework is required and water policies need to be approved. Water Act which was approved by Punjab and then KP should also be adopted by other provinces. The committee was informed that a five-meter per year depletion has taken place in Quetta. The committee was disappointed to know that why it took 5 years for this depletion to continue and no action has been taken so far for water depletion. The chairman committee put forward a plan of action and time frame to streamline the concerns regarding the solution of the water sector. The chairman committee also put forward the recommendation to have a meeting with the NGO’s of different provinces on waterlogging and water depletion. The chairman committee also sought a report by the Sindh Government on Ground Water depletion within 2 weeks.
The meeting was attended by Senators, Dr Muhammad Hamayun Mohmand, Fida Muhamamd, Sardar Shafiq Tareen, Taj Haider, Qurat Ul Ain Murray , Faisal Ali Subzwari , Sardar Muhammad Shafiq Tareen and senior officers from the concerned department. ****