CCI agrees on water resource distribution in a Month

ISLAMABAD: The Council of Common Interests (CCI) on Thursday made a number of important decisions, including resolution of 30-year-old controversies among the provinces over the 1991 Water Accord through consensual distribution of water resources in one month.

The 42nd meeting of the CCI chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan referred the issue of appointment of chairman of the Water and Power Development Authority and other officers to the federal cabinet.

It decided that the voice of the provinces would be included in decision making by the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra).

The CCI unanimously approved the Alternative and Renewable Energy Policy 2019.

The meeting was apprised that the county would face major gas shortage by the winter 2021-22.

Decides to include provinces’ voice in decision-making by Ogra

Implementation status of decisions of the previous meeting of the CCI was also reviewed.

According to an official press release, the meeting discussed recommendations of the attorney general for Pakistan on the Water Accord 1991. The CCI was informed that a committee comprising technical experts of the federal and the provincial governments had been constituted to look into the issue of fair distribution of water among the provinces. The CCI directed the committee to complete its work in one month.

A source told Dawn that since 1991, Sindh and Punjab have some differences over the water accord as Sindh demands distribution of water under para 2 of the accord under which Punjab’s share will be cut by 4 to 5 million acre feet while Punjab insists that distribution should be made under para 14 of the accord, which says that the provinces will get water with the same ratio they were receiving before 1991 unless new dams are constructed in the country.

The source said that though Sindh had not agreed on the distribution formula since 1991, it has been accepting the majority decision of the council with a dissenting note.

The meeting was apprised about the progress in installation of telemetry system.

The press release said that the meeting considered proposed amendment to the Oil & Gas Regulatory Authority Ordinance-2002, as suggested by the government of Sindh.

The CCI asked the ministry of petroleum to explore the possibility of providing the provinces with a mechanism to give their input to the regulatory body.

The meeting considered the request of Punjab for transfer of control of lower portion of Chashma Right Bank Canal from Wapda to the government of the Punjab. Agreeing to the proposal, the CCI constituted a committee comprising representatives of the Indus River System Authority and the government of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to work out modalities and finalise a bilateral agreement between the two provinces in this regard.

The CCI deliberated upon the future role and functioning of the National Commission for Human Development and Basic Education Community Schools. It was decided, in principle, to hand over the schools, currently run by the federal Ministry of Education and Professional Training, to education departments of respective provinces/regions. The process will be completed before the end of the current financial year. The CCI directed that the ministry to formulate a transition and integration plan in consultation with the provinces, which will be presented during next CCI meeting.

The strategy to combat Covid-19 was also discussed by the CCI. It appreciated the strategy adopted by the government to curb the spread of the pandemic.

Discussing the issue of sharing of windfall levy, the meeting decided that 50 per cent share of the receipts, collected under the head of windfall levy on crude and condensate and natural gas under Petroleum Policy, 2012, would be shared with the province concerned.

The meeting approved placement of annual reports for the years 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20 before the Senate and the National Assembly.

The special assistant to the prime minister on petroleum gave a presentation to the CCI on annual demand and supply situation of gas with special reference to future requirements and dwindling domestic gas reserves.

While presenting gas production, consumption and transmission data from the provinces, he said that the country would face major gas shortage by the winter 2021-2022.

It was recommended that a national consensus should be built for a major push for new exploration and production, conservation of domestic gas and rationalisation of price mechanisms to prevent impending crisis.

The meeting was informed that the federal government was organising a summit of industry experts to discuss various options to meet this impending challenge and requested the provinces for their active participation.