Sindh agrees to water flow measurement by ‘neutral’ experts – Pakistan

HYDERABAD: The Sindh government has finally agreed to measurement of water flowing from barrages under supervision of the Indus River System Authority (Irsa) by neutral experts, such as those from the International Water Management Institute.

After objections raised by the Sindh government on the issue, the Water and Power Development Autho­rity (Wapda) or its subsidiary would stay away from such an exercise, according to a provincial minister.

This was decided on June 16 during a meeting in Islamabad between representatives of Sindh and Punjab governments besides the Irsa members from the two provinces.

Sindh’s irrigation secretary attended the June 15 virtual meeting convened by federal Secretary for Water Resources Shahzad Bangash, although he had earlier declined to attend it after questioning the locus standi of Wapda. He then attended the June 16 meeting in Islamabad, where a consensus was reached over contentious issues that cropped up recently over monitoring of water flows.

Sindh’s Irrigation Minis­ter Sohail Anwar Siyal confirmed to Dawn on Saturday evening that consensus had been evolved and that other details would be worked out hopefully by Monday to give a go-ahead to independent monitoring of river flows at barrages in Sindh and Punjab for ensuring appropriate water distribution.

“An impression was being created as if we [Sindh] were evading the exercise of independent monitoring of river. But this was not the case. We objected to Wapda’s interference as it has nothing to do with such an exercise when Irsa is tasked with water distribution matters,” the minister said by phone from Larkana.

“Irrigation secretary plainly told the (June 15) meeting that he is attending it in protest only to say Wapda has nothing to do with this exercise. Only Irsa can do it. If this is not done, Sindh has the right to move the Council of Common Interests, which is the appropriate forum for it,” said an official source.

In view of this position the secretary, accompanied by two senior officials, rushed to Islamabad on June 16 to attend the Irsa meeting.

At the meeting in Islamabad it was decided that Irsa would supervise the exercise and resolve any dispute that might arise. Irsa could hire services or seek assistance from international experts or institutions in this regard other than “Wapda and ISRIP”.

Published in Dawn, June 20th, 2021