SSC stress measures to control water logging, preservation of arable land

The Chairman Committee said that the recommendations of the Senate Standing Committee should also be included in the proceedings of the Special Committee on Water Resources set up by the Council of Common Interests.

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Islamabad: At the outset, Special Secretary Sindh briefed the committee regarding the situation of groundwater resources in Sindh. The Special Secretary Sindh apprised the committee that about 60% of Sindh’s arable land is under waterlogging and the groundwater level is constantly rising which could lead to a significant decline in farming and production. The chairman of the committee said that data was not being provided by the Sindh government. The Chairman of the committee said that we want to make our recommendations based on data and clear evidence, and after the 18th Amendment, monitoring of groundwater levels is the responsibility of provincial governments. Sindh government officials told the committee that a new study was being conducted which would be completed by June and a report would be submitted to the committee. Federal Ministry officials told the committee that Balochistan was not getting its share of water due to the design flaws of Sukkur Barrage and logging of Canals in Sindh. Federal Ministry officials said that remodeling of Sukkur Barrage and Guddu Barrage was underway which would improve the situation. The chairman of the committee stressed that much can be done to control water-logging but nothing has been done to address this issue. The Chairman Committee said that the recommendations of the Senate Standing Committee should also be included in the proceedings of the Special Committee on Water Resources set up by the Council of Common Interests.

Senator Syed Sabir Shah discussed in detail the issue of civilian casualties due to the lack of a protective wall around the canal of the Ghazi Barutha project. Committee members expressed concerns over the absence of Chairman WAPDA in the meeting. Chairman Committee said that Chairman WAPDA and Member Water WAPDA should attend the meeting of this esteemed forum of the Parliament. The Chairman of the committee directed the senior officials to ensure their attendance at the next meeting of the committee. The chairman of the committee asked the WAPDA officials as to how many people have been killed in Ghazi-e-Brotha so far and what steps have been taken for its prevention. Officials informed that about 133 people have drowned in the past nine years. WAPDA has installed a protective wall and railing on about 36 km out of a total of 104 km. Guards have also been deployed around the canal to prevent people from bathing/swimming in the canal. Senator Syed Sabir Shah said that WAPDA has put up boards around Ghazi Brotha on which it is written that about one thousand people have died in the canal to date. Officials said it was written to keep people away from the water and prevent accidents. The chairman of the committee said that this was tantamount to misrepresentation to the nation. Billboards should be corrected as soon as possible. The chairman of the committee said that a plan should be made for the safety of the people and how a lasting solution to this problem is possible. The Chairman Committee adjourned the matter till the next meeting.

Officials of the Federal Ministry of Water Resources gave a detailed briefing to the committee on the ministry’s PSDP plans for the year 2022/23. The committee approved the plans after due consideration.

The committee meeting was attended by Senators Syed Sabir Shah, Dr. Muhammad Humayun Mohmand, Sana Jamali, Sardar Muhammad Shafiq Tareen, Shaheen Khalid Butt, and officials of the Ministry of Water Resources.

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