IRSA being guided by adhocism as Punjab fails to appoint member

Munawar Hasan
Tuesday, Sep 14, 2021

LAHORE: The Punjab province, which is biggest recipient of river supplies, has not been able to appoint well in time its member for apex water regulation body, Indus River System Authority (IRSA), rendering post of chairman filled under makeshift arrangement.

Consequently, the Islamabad-based prime water sharing platform having equal representation of all provinces is being remote-controlled from Lahore under administrative control of a bureaucrat, it is learnt.

Officials said a technocrat needs to be appointed immediately on crucial junction of assessing water needs for upcoming Rabi season, keeping in view lingering water shortage. Sardar Mohsin Leghari, provincial minister for Irrigation agreed that appointment has been delayed. To a question, he said, the process of appointing member will be expedited. "I have asked secretary to interview senior eligible candidates," Leghari said. Currently the administrative head of the Irrigation Department enjoying post of IRSA member/chairman in the absence of a permanent member and has been responsible for completing process for nominating technocrat on permanent basis.

Sources said a panel was proposed to high ups of Irrigation Department early this year -- about five months back but due to usual bureaucratic dragging of feet, the said file has been lost somewhere.

Several weeks back, it is learnt that Admin Wing of Irrigation Department woke up from deep slumber and redrafted another summary which is also said to be stuck in typical bureaucratic procedural delays.

As per procedure, after drafting of summary by the department, it needs to be approved by executive authority of the province. From there, it is sent to federal government for issuing notification. This whole process usually took several months in normal circumstances.

Despite difference of opinion on various issues, IRSA has been playing remarkable role in allocating water among the provinces as per share under the 1991 Water Apportionment Accord. The regulatory body was established under an act of parliament which emphasizes its role for regulating and monitoring the distribution of water sources of Indus River System in accordance with the Water Accord amongst the Provinces. However, this unique platform where representatives of all provinces tend to workout shares of all provinces as a result of mutual consultation, and adhocism on part of one of the main players tantamount to weakening its foundation, said sources. Such administrative malpractice results in trial and error method, involving adjustment and readjustment at a permanent platform of sharing water.

It may be noted that the post of Member IRSA Punjab has been vacant since September 9, 2021. According to notification issued by IRSA on September 09, 2021, in accordance with Ministry of Water Resource's Notification, Rao Irshad Ali Khan, on completion of his three years term of appointment as Member IRSA (Punjab) has relinquished the charge of the post of Member IRSA (Chairman, IRSA) on September 9, 2021.