ISLAMABAD Muharraf to discuss water crisis today : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

08 April 2000

Musharraf to discuss water crisis today

By Faraz Hashmi & Rauf Klasra

ISLAMABAD, April 7: The chief executive, Gen Pervez Musharraf, has summoned the Punjab Governor, Sindh irrigation minister and chairmen of WAPDA and the Indus River System Authority to review the water situation on Saturday.

In another move, Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz on Friday announced the setting up of a committee on water to determine "interventions" for ensuring an adequate supply to the four provinces. Agriculture Minister Shafqat Ali Jamote will head the committee.

Later, Mr Jamote presided over a meeting which decided that a tele-metric system would be installed at all the barrages to monitor water withdrawals by all the four provinces.

No working paper for the Saturday's meeting was issued but a source said that water management would be the subject of the discussion. Since there is no irrigation minister in Punjab, the governor has been asked to attend the meeting.

The finance minister made the announcement at a meeting where officials from the ministry of food, agriculture and livestock presented a report on the water shortage and its impact on the wheat crop. The meeting was told that due to fast depletion of Tarbela and Mangla Dams there was a serious shortage of water, particularly in the 13 wheat-producing districts of Sindh and the Seraiki region.

Sources told Dawn that a proposal for increasing the elevation of Mangla Dam and undertaking desilting of Tarbela could come up for discussion at the meeting. The proposal was recently submitted by WAPDA to the Central Development Working Party.

Sources in the Finance Division said the ministry of food and agriculture (Minfal) in a report had informed the ECC that due to water shortage a number of crops, including wheat, were facing serious growth crisis which would affect the production in the coming days.

The monitoring system would be installed at an estimated cost of Rs50 million in five years, said an official, adding that gauges would be installed at all the main barrages and these gauges could be monitored simultaneously at all provincial headquarters as well as the federal capital.

The Minfal had also informed the ECC that the Mangla reservoir which used to get filled by August remained 13 feet below the maximum level. Then the withdrawal from the reservoirs, which normally starts in October, began in the second week of September.

The IRSA, according to the Minfal, had declared that there will be a shortage of 10-12pc water, and accordingly, it fixed the share of all the provinces. But due to very poor inflow, the IRSA revised the plan and further reduced the share of the provinces in January.

The ECC was told that wheat areas in southern Punjab were 7.6 million acres and 600,000 acres in Mirpurkhas where the shortage of irrigation water was quite prominent. Badin has also been hard hit, the Minfal said.

The Saturday's meeting to be presided by the chief executive was also expected to take a decision regarding the age-limit for the members nominated by the provinces for the IRSA.

-- Martin Thompson (, April 08, 2000

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