ISLAMABAD - Indus River System Authority (IRSA) has rejected the recommendations of Attorney General of Pakistan with overwhelming majority of 4:1 concerning the Water Apportionment Accord 1991 and proposed to continue the 3-tier formula for the water distribution among the provinces.

Except Sindh, all the four members of IRSA including Punjab, Balochistan, Khyhber Paktunkhwa and federal member have opposed the attorney general’s recommendations on the Water Accord 1991, official sources told The Nation here Sunday.

It is pertinent to mention here that in June 2018, the Council of Common Interests (CCI) had constituted an Inter-Provincial Committee headed by Attorney General of Pakistan to look into the issues of water availability and distribution in the country in view of the dispute between Punjab and Sindh over the water distribution.

The committee late submitted its report endorsing the Sindh’s demand about water distribution and recommended to analyse the water accord for reaching an equitable formula while remaining within the accord, rather than importing anything from beyond the accord.

Sindh’s claim that water be apportioned according to para 2 of the water accord which distributes water on the presumption of 114 MAF read with Para 14(a) &(b) and the CCI’s decision of September 16 1991 is correct in law, said the committee.

Secretary Ministry of Water Resource had referred the Attorney General Committee recommendations to IRSA for comments. In its meeting held on 3rd July 2019, IRSA overwhelmingly rejected the recommendations of the Attorney General of Pakistan. In a letter to Federal Secretary Water Resources, IRSA said that “the authority took a majority decision of 4:1 (with member Sindh IRSA dissenting) to continue with the present arrangement.

The IRSA instead endorsed the present arrangements of water distribution based on the 3-Tir formula resting on the accepted distribution principles and sound engineering judgment, till water availability reaches 114.35 MAF by injection of additional storage capacity in the system as proposed by the Attorney General of Pakistan.

Commenting on the Attorney General recommendations, Chairman IRSA/ Member Balochistan said that Balochistan had no objection to the 3-tier formula currently in vogue. It may continue as it was within the sphere and spirit of the Water Apportionment Accord (WAA) 1991. Secondly, Balochistan’s exemption from sharing of shortage since the year 2000 as approved by IRSA should also continue and Sindh province should be directed to follow the lRSA directive in this regard. Thirdly, the issue of persistent short supplies to Patfeeder and Kirther canals of Balochisun by Sindh was pending with CCI with the direction to Chief Ministers of Sindh and Balachistan to mutually resolve the issue. Sindh, however, was not giving attention to the CCl directives.

Member IRSA from KP said that Attorney General had submitted recommendations without the consensus and signatures of the members of the Committee constituted by CCI for the purpose. He said that paras 37 and 38 of the recommendations were conflicting. Para 37 referred to the ten daily uses for distribution whether short or surplus meaning distribution as per Para 2 of WAA 91. Whereas Para 38 said that if the volume to be determined by expert hydrologist was found to be equal to 114.35 MAF then distribution may be made as per Para 2 & 4 of the WAA91, and if it was below 114.35  MAF then till that volume was achieved through conservation and additional storages, the decision of CCI dated 16.09.1991 to be read with Para l4(b) of the WAA 91 be implemented to: apportionment. Based on above expressed views Member IRSA KP decided not to endorse the subject conflicting recommendations.

Member IRSA from Punjab said that Para 25 of the recommendations accepted water availability could be increased only through construction of new storages. However, Sindh’s claim of increased share as agreed in Para 2 of WAA 91- in the absence of increased availability was not consistent with Para 6 of WAA91 which ensured increased availability through storages. In para 26 of the recommendation the worthy Attorney General had rightly observed that it was a clash of law and logic. He pointed out that every law must be logical and as such, the 3-tier formula evolved by IRSA in 2003 was a logical and judicious arrangement in accordance with the spirit of the WAA91.

He said the logical pm of the WAA91 was that it protected the Average System Uses of the provinces. He said it was a pity that Sindh was damaging itself and others by opposing reservoirs. He informed that 29 MAF on an annual average since I976 was lost downstream Kotri, which worked out to a staggering 609 Billion Dollars. Concluding his above views he termed the 3-tier formula logical and judicious arrangement in accordance with the spirit of the Accord.

Member IRSA from Sindh said that the subject recommendations were overall balanced ones. He said that the Attorney General had given views against sharing of mm under 3-tier formula in Para 36 of his recommendations by saying: “Thus the historical uses would not have any place in the Accord as the same has done its job for determination of the ten daily uses and agreed upon by all the provinces on 16 September 1991 and decision taken by the CCI on that date”.

He added that Para 37 recommended to determine the volume that was available and “till then the 10 daily uses as determined by CCI on 16 September 1991, and the distribution, whether water is short of surplus should be on that basis.” Member lRSA Sindh fully endorsed the recommendations of Attorney General as they distributed water under Para 2 being part and parcel of the WAA91.

Member IRSA Federal commented that perusal of the recommendations highlighted conflicting recommendations in Para 37 and 38. Para 37 recommended ten daily uses for water distribution irrespective of shortages and excesses meaning distribution as per Para 2 of WAA I991. Contrary to that, Para 38 related to determination of volume by expert hydrologist, took volume as 114.35 MAF and its distribution as per Para 2 & 4 of the WAA91.

He said that the WAA 199l clearly increased shares of smaller provinces as water availability increased which was possible only through new storages as recognized in the recommendations. He said the 3-tier formula put in place by IRSA in the year 2003 seemed logical interpretation of law\Act, resulting in judicious distribution and especially in alignment with the WAA 1991.

He said to promote inter-provincial harmony in the future regarding all issues and water, a consensus water accounting system should be on ground. He further said that Para 26 of the subject recommendations observed clash of Law and Logic which essentially interpreted that every law needed a logical background for implementation.