Pakistan’s water rights: Senate panel wants ex-Indus water commissioner arrested

ISLAMABAD: Urging the government to discuss water rights issue with India, the Senate standing committee on Cabinet Secretariat has sought the immediate arrest of former Indus water commissioner Jamaat Ali Shah for not protecting Pakistan’s water rights.
The Senate committee, while discussing issues relating to floods, and rehabilitation of earthquake victims on Wednesday, said Shah was responsible for the country’s water woes.
“The government should have arrested Jamaat Ali Shah. He is the man behind Pakistan’s waters woes,” accused panel chairperson Kalsoom Parveen.
Parveen added that India was constructing more dams in Indian held Kashmir in violation of the Indus Water Treaty and other international agreements between the two countries.
Shah was removed from office in 2010 after being accused of not protecting the country’s water rights as he allegedly did not pursue the case put forward by Pakistan against the construction of the Kishenganga dam by India on the Neelam River.
The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had registered a case against Shah for allegedly acting as an agent of India by allowing it to build the Nimoo Bazgo Dam. However, he had left for Canada by then.
According to sources, the FIA and Pakistan’s intelligence agencies believed Shah acted maliciously to allow India a ‘free hand’ to build the 57-metre high hydropower project in Leh district, which some believe caused great damage to the water interests of the country.
The federal government is reportedly in contact with Interpol for repatriation of Shah from Canada.
National Flood Protection Plan (2015-25)
Federal Flood Commission Chairman Asjad Imtiaz informed the panel that a National Flood Protection Plan (2015-25) was being prepared.
He said the commission would complete its work plan about structural and non-structural measures, flood plan mapping and zoning, and automation of flood reporting system by January 31, 2015.
Damage caused by floods
NDMA chairman Major General Muhammad Saeed Aleem briefed the committee that so far 360 people died, 646 people got injured while 4,065 villages due to the recent floods in Pakistan.
“Damage was caused due to flash floods, landslides, urban flooding, as well as river flooding,” he said.
In response to a question, he said this year’s monsoon rainfall was not experienced in Suleiman Range and only River Ravi, Jhelum and Chenab experienced flooding owing to release of excess water from India.
Rehabilitation of earthquake victims
Brigadier Wajid Raza, the acting deputy chairman of the Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA), informed lawmakers that 67% rehabilitation work had been completed in the areas affected by 2005 earthquake, whereas the rest was still in progress.
Raza complained that ERRA was not being given the authority to work on New Balakot City Project properly, and until now only 14% of the land was given under control of the authority.
“86% of project’s land is disputed and hence ERRA is denied the permission to work,” he said.
In response to Senators’ queries about the reasons of the hurdles, he said the ERRA had also sought help of top officials for uplift of continuing projects but no concrete steps were initiated so far.