ISLAMABAD - Ministry of Water and Power on Thursday proposed pricing water to maintain existing irrigation system and to build new water reservoirs.

The ministry of water and power officials suggested that price of irrigation water should be increased manifold and water as a whole should be priced to bridge the escalating gap between demand and supply of water.

The charges of ‘abbayana’ system introduced in British rule are still very nominal and the cost of maintaining irrigation water supply is 70 per cent higher than the collected revenue, officials said while presenting the first-ever water policy of the country.

The officials proposed that the irrigation water aabyana should be increased from Rs 80-110 per acre per year to Rs. 1500 per acre per year.

“We would generate between Rs 45-50 billion per year, and from this amount we can build new reservoirs as well as we can carry out maintenance,” official said. He feared that if immediate steps were not taken for the maintenance of Sukhur Barrage, irrigation water supply may severely affected in the coming years.

Chairman Wapda, Zafar Mehmood, who was hosting the event, in the whole day session, presented the present water scenario and the challenges regarding the water management.

He said that coordination between provinces and capital was the biggest challenge and if streamlined new water reservoirs and hydel power generation processes could be carried out. Construction of dams is federal subject, but neither provinces are ready to contribute nor they share the revenues they collect from water supply, he said.

He said if water is priced its wastage will be reduced, which will bridge increasing gap between demand and supply.

The Ministry of Water and Power and Wapda officials highlighted need for constructing new dams. They said that due to sedimentation present dams were losing water storage capacity, while due to enormous increase in population the demand was growing fast.

They suggested that water pricing could be used as mechanism for funding construction of new projects. They highlighted use of high efficiency irrigation system, public awareness for using water efficiently and cropping pattern.