On Tuesday, the NA Committee on Water Resources learned that more than 50 percent of canals in Balochistan are dry since the province is receiving 33 percent less water than its share. This is an issue that has dragged on for way too long and must be addressed at the earliest. The NA committee expectedly came down to fingers being pointed in multiple directions, with Abdul Hameed Mengal—member Indus River System Authority (IRSA) Balochistan—alleging that Sindh is using its share of water. His counterpart from Sindh however argued that the province itself is facing a water shortage as it is not getting its share as per the water accord, and that if Sindh gets less water, so will Balochistan.
Both Sindh and Balochistan have raised their grievances regarding this issue multiple times in the recent past. The former has reservations on calculations made by IRSA to determine provinces’ share in water as the authority applies equal share in losses to both upper and lower riparian provinces. Balochistan too has been clamouring against unavailability of its share of water in the Sukkur barrage, as are the barrage’s right bank canals’ growers who have cried hoarse over a shortage of water.
Compromised water flows will continue to put rice growers in Sindh and Balochistan in a quandary, suffering since the start of the summer. It is imperative that this long-standing dispute is resolved at the earliest because of the serious repercussions it has on our already struggling agricultural sector. Balochistan in particular, has suffered disproportionately from a lack of development and a basic need such as water must be provided at all costs.
With the water crisis in Pakistan assuming dangerous proportions with each passing day, it is essential for IRSA to resolve disputes over water provision in a manner that secures the buy-in of all provinces, even if that requires a reevaluation of the existing water accord.