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Sindh demands water distribution in accordance with 1991 Accord – Pakistan

KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, in a meeting with the Federal Minister for Water Resources Chaudhry Moonis Elahi, said that his government would not accept any water sharing scheme, including three-tier formula, other than 1991 Water Accord, and concrete measures should be taken to strengthen Indus River System Authority (IRSA) so that it could implement the water accord in its true letter and spirit and does not allow opening of link canals in Punjab during early and late Kharif season.

The meeting was held here on Monday at here CM House. Federal Minister Moonis Elahi was assisted by Federal water secretary Shahzad Bangash, joint secretary Water Mehar Ali Shah and Director Ashar Abbas Zaidi.

Sindh chief minister was assisted by Irrigation Minister Jam Khan Shoro, Chairman P&D Hassan Naqvi, Chief Engineer irrigation Zareef Khero, Member Irsa Zahid Junejo and Additional Secretary to CM Fayaz Jatoi.

At the outset of the meeting, Moonis Ilahi said that he had started meeting with the stakeholders, provinces, was aimed at to hear their point of view on the water sharing scheme. He added that he wanted to resolve all the outstanding issues amicably.

Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, welcoming the federal minister and his efforts to resolve the water sharing issue, said that the 1991 Accord was approved by the Council of Common Interest and is acceptable to all the provinces. “Our grievance is very simple that we want the federal government to strengthen the IRSA to enable the body to implement the water accord in its true letter and spirit,” he said and added that the IRSA has failed to implement the accord and it has allowed Punjab to open its link canals.

Shah said that the Indus water has been used for irrigation for last several centuries. Initially there were inundation canals, and withdrawals from these canals would depend on the level of water in the river. Later, the first headwork was constructed on the Ravi River in Punjab during 19th Century. After that, several other head-works were constructed across the tributary’s rivers from 1882-1901 and the first Barrage across the Indus, Sukkur Barrage, was constructed in 1932.

Shah said that after construction of Sutlej Valley Canals Project in 1933, certain difficulties arose for sharing of water amongst the states of Bekanir, Bahawalpur, Khairpur and Punjab.

“In order to resolve the issue, the government of India appointed Anderson committee in 1937, he said and added: “The Anderson Committee submitted its recommendations regarding water allocation of the then existing canal system and the proposed Thal Canal and the government had approved the recommendation of Anderson Committee.”

He said that in 1940, on the complaint of Sindh Province against Proposed Bhakra Dam project of Punjab province, the government of India appointed Rau Commission for investigation. In the light of recommendations of Rau Commission, the negotiations between Punjab and Sindh were initiated in 1943 and during September 1945 an agreement was signed by the Chief Engineers of Punjab and Sindh. This is known as Sindh-Punjab Agreement; however, its some financial issues remained unresolved till partition.

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