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Committee On Water Resources Calls For Curbs On Flood Plain Encroachment

ISLAMABAD: The Committee on Water Resources in its meeting on Wednesday took serious notice of the absence of Balochistan chief secretary while discussing the progress report on the point of public importance raised by Senator Mir Kabeer Ahmed Muhammad Shahi, regarding the issue of compensating the people affected by the Mirani Dam project.

Senator Mir Kabeer Shahi said that a recommendation was made in the last meeting for summoning the relevant officers, which had been completely ignored. He also showed displeasure over the presence of ill-informed officers during the meeting.

Senator Shahi also pointed out that the absence of the relevant officers amounted to delaying tactics and vowed to take strict action against such behaviour.

The committee recommended that the chief secretary, irrigation secretary, finance secretary and Kech deputy commissioner should be summoned in the next meeting and a privilege motion should be moved against them if they fail to show-up the next time.

The next agenda item during the committee meeting was linked to the issue of relocation of Khazina Dam and the reasons and rationale for reselecting of the site. The committee was informed that only Rs 300 million have been allocated for the project that would otherwise cost Rs 25 billion for completion.

The members of the committee were informed that the capacity of the new dam site would be seven times more. The committee was also requested to support this matter and give directions to include the budget for the project in the provincial Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP). The Committee of Water Resources Chairman Senator Shamim Afridi appreciated the progress made on the project and said that, “Almost 15 months of hard work was finally paying off.”

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Meanwhile, referring to an editorial published in Daily Jang on August 7, 2019, regarding damage caused by floods in the Indus delta, the committee recommended that further encroachment of flood plains must be discouraged and a policy of flood plain regulation should be formulated.

Further, the committee recommended that people affected by the dam construction activities must be compensated and relocated to safer areas.

While discussing water in-flow from the Indian side in to Sutlej River in Pakistan, it was recommended that an in-camera meeting should be held solely on this subject. Later, the chief secretaries of all four provinces were summoned for the next meeting.

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Abdullah Malik

The author is a reporter based in Islamabad.

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