‘Pakistan vigilant to protect western rivers’

  • State minister says India has right to construct run-of-river hydroelectric plants within limits

State Minister for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali on Tuesday assured the Senate that Pakistan was very vigilant in safeguarding waters of three western rivers allotted to it under the Indus Waters Treaty, a water-distribution treaty between Pakistan and India in 1960.

During the question hour in the House, he said that any violation of the treaty was promptly protested by Pakistan on the relevant forum. At present, India had no storage work constructed on the waters of the three western rivers – Sindh, Jhelum and Chenab.

The state minister said that India had had the right to construct the run-of-river hydroelectric plants on the western rivers within the limits of design and operational criteria provided by the treaty. According to this agreement, control over the three eastern rivers – the Beas, the Ravi and the Sutlej – was given to India, while control over the three western rivers to Pakistan.

To a question, he said that no loadshedding of electricity would be carried out during Sehar and Iftar timings in the holy month of Ramazan. He said that the government would take all steps provide maximum relief to the consumers during holy month. He said that the government had taken various steps to overcome the issue of loadshedding included installation of hydel, coal, solar and wind power plants while a number of power generation projects were expected to be completed by June this and next year.

Abid Sher Ali said that steps were also being taken for improvement in transmission and distribution system to reduce losses. He said that new transmission lines had been laid down and several grid stations had been established to overcome losses. To another question, he said there was no adverse impacts to the eco-system, fish fauna at the downstream of the Dasu Dam project.

He said that 73 small dams were constructed during last three years having cumulative water storage capacity of over 1.2 million acre feet. The state minister said that 36 of these dams were constructed in Balochistan, six in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 30 in Sindh and one in Gilgit-Baltistan.

To another question, he said that Pakistan National Water Policy had been prepared by the ministry with the collaboration of all stakeholders and submitted for the approval of the Council of Common Interests. He said the policy provided comprehensive guidelines for water resources management and development as per international practice.

According to the policy, provinces were also at liberty to come up with their own policy framework in line with the National Water Policy. Once approved by the council, it would pave way for improved, sustainable and integrated water resources management in the country, the minister added. He said the policy included guidelines and a roadmap on water uses and allocation of priorities, integrated planning for development and use of water resources, environmental integrity of Basin, impact of climate change etc.