Irsa refuses water to Punjab

Post Source: The News – December 09, 2009 – By Khalid Mustafa

ISLAMABAD: The Indus Rive System Authority (Irsa) on Tuesday refused to accede to Punjab’s demand of water releases from mainstream of Indus.

Under the decision, water releases from the Indus to the province through four main canals — Thal canal, Chashma Right Bank canal, Dera Ghazi Khan canal and Muzzafargarh canal — will be closed.

“All Irsa members met here on Tuesday and took the decision on the water closure dispute from the Indus and refused to give its share to the Punjab which is in dire need of water,” a senior official source told The News.

Irsa spokesman Mohammad Khalid Idris Rana also confirmed that Punjab had been denied water from Indus, instead it has been asked to withdraw water from Mangla command.

To a question, he said presently water releases were being provided to the Punjab through four main canals that would definitely be closed later on. Punjab has been asked to get water share from Mangla command as its share has been exhausted from main stem of Indus.

However, he refused to divulge further information about the Irsa meeting. The correspondent could not get the version of either the Sindh members or that of Balochistan as their cell phones were powered off. The cell phone of Irsa chief Aman Gull Khattak was also powered off as usual.

In Tuesday’s meeting, Punjab representative in the meeting came up with the dissenting note, saying the decision will inflict huge loss on the ‘food basket’ of the country and in turn the country is bound to face food crisis next year.

MH Siddiqui, Consultant to Punjab government on water issues when contacted, said, “I would be in a position to comment once we receive the formal letter from the Irsa.” However, we have got the preliminary information from Irsa that the Punjab’s version has not been accepted, but now the question arises which part of version is not accepted. “So unless and until letter containing the Irsa decision is received, I am unable to comment.”

MH Siddiqui further maintained that Punjab would make its strategy after receiving the formal letter from Irsa. Hamid Malhi, Chief of Punjab Water Council branded this decision detrimental to the agrarian economy of southern part saying it would have more social-political adverse impact on the large area of South Punjab.

He said that the government is already in hot water, and Irsa has created another problem for central Punjab as well as the government. To a question he said that the area cannot be irrigated if water is used from Mangla command.

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