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> Dialogue is the only way to build Consensus among Provinces on Water Issues
Briefing Session
January 18, 2011


Lahore, January 18; In a bid to highlight the difference of opinion among provinces on water issues and to open the way for dialogue, PILDAT arranged a Roundtable Discussion for Members of the Provincial Assembly of the Punjab on Inter-Provincial Water Issues in Pakistan.


Punjab MPAs believed a concerted and informed dialogue among various provincial stakeholders at the political level is the way forward towards getting a consensus on contentious issues. MPAs commended PILDAT for taking the initiative in an objective and non-partisan manner and believed that only such an initiative can pave the way for future development of water resources as well as conservation and better management of water resources. “Punjab is certainly on board, as Punjab Assembly’s record of resolutions shows in favour of construction of new reservoirs, but the way forward is to allay negative perceptions and lack of fears of other provinces, only possible through the dialogue,” said MPs. The spirit Punjab showed in consensus-building on the 7th NFC Award is what is needed to move forward in this domain as well, they believed.


Leading water experts from all provinces including Mr. Muhammad Idrees Rajput, former Secretary Irrigation Sindh, Mr. Mohammad Amin, member IRSA, Balochistan, Rao Irshad, chairman IRSA Raqeeb Khan, member IRSA Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, made presentations on different view points on inter provincial water issues. A background paper, prepared by PILDAT and approved by a PILDAT-facilitated Inter-Provincial Steering Committee of Water Experts, was also shared with MPAs at the Roundtable Discussion. Honourable Speaker Punjab Assembly Rana Muhammad Iqbal Khan, chaired the Roundtable Discussion while over 50 Punjab MPAs actively participated in the Briefing.


Opening the Roundtable, Honourable Rana Muhammad Iqbal Khan was of the view that despite the 1991 Water Accord some forces are working against the consensus among provinces. He said that to resolve the inter-provincial water problems, all stakeholder have to sit on a table for dialogue.


While presenting their points of view, experts were of the opinion that it is the elected representatives who have to take the initiative in consensus-building among different stockholders. They should also work for removing trust deficit among provinces which is the biggest hurdle. Major stumbling blocks in the way of achieving consensus, highlighted by experts, included sharing of available water, new storages, kotri down-stream flow of water, early filling of Mangla dam, operations of link canals and exemptions from shortages sharing to Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa and Balochistan.


Earlier, Mr. Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, Executive Director PILDAT, while opening the session, said, that the PILDAT effort is to highlight and raise the issue, open it for debate and create awareness and pave the way for consensus-building among the provincial and national stakeholders. He said that after the devastating flood the question of batter water management is again raised so it is the right time to discuss this very important issue. He said the ultimate objective is to resolve such issues through sustained and informed dialogue in the political-public domain.


PILDAT unveiled two papers at the Roundtable Discussion including Background Paper on Inter-provincial water issues and a Case Study on Cauvery river from Peninsular India.