Sindh: Government Urged to Take Stand on Water Issue
Speaker at a seminar on Sunday urged the federal government to take decisive stance on water dispute with India, saying it is a matter of life and death for an agrarian country like Pakistan.The seminar was organised by Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman Memorial Society in collaboration with the Tameer-e-Pakistan Party on the growing crises of water, loadshedding and national economy here at a local hotel on Sunday (28 March 2010).
Below is an article published by: The International News
Former Commerce Minister Humayun Akhter said aggressive stance should be adopted while taking up with India over the violation of the Indus Water Treaty. He said Kashmir and water issues were interlinked, saying it was evident that India would try to take negative steps against Pakistan on the issues. He stressed the need to build dams on a priority basis, adding that large dams always invited opposition in the world, however, such opposition should be dealt with wisely with give and take policy. Humayun said various groups the vested interests in Sindh were also against the construction of Kalabagh Dam.
“Some personalities are involved in farming in the katcha area along Indus River in Sindh,” he said, adding that they were against construction of the dam due to their dependence on flood water. He said such elements should be exposed and isolated for mustering support on the issue. “We need to efficiently manage available water resources and the development of storage capacity with consensus should be given priority,” the former minister said, adding that constitutional amendments were essential but resolution of people’ problems should be given importance.
Syed Jamaat Ali Shah, Pakistan Indus Waters Commissioner, warned that the present shortage of water was not a big crisis, stating that much bigger crisis was imminent. He termed better water management as a key to address the lingering problem of water shortage. He offered to render his resignation to government, saying he would be happy to quit his post if the government found a suitable person. Reacting to the opposition of some participants, he said he was trying to take up water issue with India with sincerity. He vowed to take violation of the Indus Water Treaty with India to its logical conclusion. Mr Shah said India could not continue the Wuller Barrage project due to objection raised by Pakistan while it had to reduce the limit of agriculture area under the Indus Water Treaty. He made it clear that it was not India’s right to build 150 hydropower projects in the Held Kashmir.
“Like agriculture from western rivers, India should also use electricity generation for meeting the requirements of Kashmir alone. It is not fair that electricity being generated in IHK is being given to people living along the southern tip.”
Aziz Ahmad Awan, General Secretary Tameer-e-Pakistan Party, said we would have to build water reservoirs immediately, adding that industry was also badly affected by the electricity outages. He MKRMS chairman Wasif Nagi said we should take concrete measures for increasing water storage capacity, otherwise, we would be among the water-starved countries of the world in next few years. Qazi Abdul Qadir Khamosh said water issue should be taken up at international level also. He said it was the duty of the masses to ask rulers to perform their duties sincerely and take effective measures on water front.
Jamil A Naz said technical experts should be given the task to address the apprehensions over water projects. He said swift respond was needed to tackle the growing shortage of water in the country.
PML-N parliamentarian Sardar Ayaz Sadiq said the Indus Water Commission should be strengthened and besides legal team, an expert panel should also be formed to take up water issue with India. He demanded the government give priority to the issue in composite dialogue with India.
Hamid Malhi of the Punjab Water Council said we should not waste time in the process of consensus over building dams.
“We should build Kalabagh Dam irrespective of its political opposition,” he said, adding that the biggest stakeholder in the water sector was Punjab, having 80 per cent contribution in agriculture produce. He said Punjab’s share in the Indus River System Authority (Irsa) was only 20 per cent while Sindh enjoyed 40 percent representation in the form of two members.
Water expert B A Malik and Kashmala Tariq, Masood Shafqat, Dr Javaid Akram, Shamshad Ahmad Khan, Eng Suleman Najeeb Khan, Dr Anjum Yaseen also spoke. Wasif Nagi, chairman MKRMS, was host of the seminar while Kashan Haider, Ali Imran Inayat and Shahzad Rauf assisted him.