Federal govt considers enhancing water cess charged by Irsa by 10 times


Completion period of project, for installation of telemetry system on 27 sites across IBIS, is 55 months and it will be completed by 2027.


ISLAMABAD  -  The federal government is con­sidering enhancing the water cess charged by Indus River System Authority (IRSA) by 10 times to meet the O&M expense of proposed telemetry system on Indus Basin Irrigation Sys­tem (IBIS). It has been proposed that Indus River System Author­ity (IRSA) will move a summary to the Council of Common Inter­ests (CCI) for the upward revi­sion of water charges/tariff, of­ficial source told The Nation.

According to the source, keeping in view the additional O&M cost of Rs1466 million for 27 telemetry system on IBIS, it has been proposed that the existing water cess should be revised. It has been decid­ed that IRSA will take up the matter with CCI, with certain recommendations along with consensus of the provinces and will start the collection from June 2024. It has also been proposed that the Ministry of Water Resources will hire Third-Party Validation (TPV) consultants for technical as­pects validations of the project.

The completion period of the project, for the installation of telemetry system on 27 sites across IBIS, is 55 months and it will be completed by 2027. The total cost of the project is Rs23,834.707 million, includ­ing FEC of Rs. 9,059.079 mil­lion. The Indus River System Authority (IRSA) is responsible for “the regulation and distri­bution of surface waters among provinces according to the al­locations and policies spelt out in the Water Apportionment Accord (WAA) 1991. The IRSA Act indicates that the actual observation and compilation of data shall be the responsibil­ity of the respective provinces, WAPDA and other allied orga­nizations, while the process shall be monitored by IRSA. To adequately monitor this pro­cess, IRSA needs to be able to provide independent verifica­tion of flow measurements. 

Currently the irrigation wa­ter management system is based on manual operations conducted through instruc­tions/indents over phone or fax. The decisions for water distribution are taken based on the information of water availability calculated manu­ally at barrages and obtained over phone/fax by IRSA.

The overall objective of the project is to set up a system, which will help in planning ir­rigation water management on scientific grounds. Since the water flow/availability and gate positions will be monitored at all locations on real time basis, the element of mistrust will be eliminated and thus create har­mony among the provinces. The project will provide a basis for confirming if the water distribu­tion is done in accordance with the WAA 1991. In the original PC-I, it was envisaged that the installation of the telemetry network will be carried out at seven key flow monitoring loca­tions. However, at the Telemetry Options Report stage, Ministry of Water Resources in consulta­tion with IRSA has decided to install the selected telemetry technology to all 25 flow mea­surement sites. In compliance to the decisions of CDWP meeting February 01, 2024, two more sites have been included in the revised PC-I, the total number of sites have been increased to 27.

The per unit cost of the telem­etry system has increased by 157 percent from Rs 334 million to Rs 882 million during last the five years. The project is based on the state-of-the-art design of real time flow measurement system and installation, testing and commissioning on 27 key locations/barrages of Indus Ba­sin Irrigation System. The access to flow monitoring data will be made through establishment of a main real time data center as well as regional data centers for the key stakeholder for their in­formation and respective uses.

The project also envisaged that IRSA would deploy their regular O&M staff during execu­tion of the project for capacity building and desired training enabling them to handle the O&M of the project, indepen­dently. To meet the O&M cost of Rs 1466 million per annum, IRSA will require to raise the current water charges by al­most 10 times, said the source. It has also been proposed that member I&M will identify 15 mega projects in the water sec­tor for ascertaining the quality of the consultants. The Auditor General of Pakistan would be requested to conduct an audit to validate whether or not the guidelines of Planning Com­mission and PPRA are fully fol­lowed to engage quality consul­tants for the project.

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