Need for consensus on dams
BY: MOHAMMAD KHAN SIAL, Karachi, Sindh
This is apropos of Khursheed Anwer’s letter “Consensus on dam” (June 18) which states: “Sindh has been guaranteed 2.2maf additional water from the Kalabagh dam, what more consensus do the politicians want?”
It appears that the writer has not been to the depth of the problem. In the “Water Appropriation Accord 1991”, at least a release of 10maf water for downstream Kotri was also guaranteed but was never implemented even after the passing of 20 years. So what is the use of guarantees when they were never implemented in letter and spirit but only worked as “show-pieces”?
The controversial Chashma-Jhelum Link Canal in Punjab was the original Flood Canal, but many times Punjab has released water unilaterally despite a severe deficit of water in Sindh. During the deficit, Punjab has taken its full share of water multiple times by force. This can be seen in the AGN Abbasi Report.
Had the water been released downstream Kotri, sea intrusion would not have inundated 2.4 million acres of valuable land in Sindh. According to the Sindh government, almost 80m acres of land are inundated by sea intrusion. The government of Sindh firmly believes that if the situation remains the same, the historical city of Thatta and also Badin would disappear within 20 years. This is all because the “Water Accord – 1991” which was accepted by Sindh with reservations was not implemented in letter and spirit.
Recently, the NFC Award, announced with consensus, showed that even guarantees given in the Constitution were not sufficient. The same happened when the Thar coal, which was a provincial subject, was taken up by the Centre against the constitution and a notification was also issued but after much hue and cry from Sindh, it was rolled back.
I suggest that those who are sincere supporters of the dam should first demand the following:
1. At least 10maf should be released downstream Kotri as envisaged in “The Water Accord – 1991”.
2. Sindh must be given its due share of water at Guddu.
3. The Flood Canal, i.e. the Chashma–Jhelum Link Canal, must be closed permanently except for the availability of excess water during floods.
4. The controversial Wapda must be dismembered as it had twisted facts and figures to support Punjab. Three out of four provinces are not happy with its performance and the prime minister called it a “white elephant” like Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had once did.
5. All efforts must be made to save the Indus Delta as its ruination is bound to have environmental repercussions on Sindh. Only implementation of the Water Accord–1991 will guarantee this.
6. Punjab must admit the theft it committed on Sindh water and must pay compensation for it.
Sunday, 20 Jun, 2010