Govt delaying CRBC project to deprive KP of water share

ISLAMABAD - The federal government is using delaying tactics to start construction of Chasma Right Bank Canal (CRBC) Lift-cum-Gravity project depriving Khyber Pakhtunkhwa of its share of agriculture water.

The PC-I of the project is in the ministry of water resources for more than one year and now the ministry has informed the Planning Commission that there are technical flaws in the project and can't be submitted to the CDWP for approval, official source told The Nation here Sunday.

In the previous CDWP meeting deputy chairman planning commission, Sartaj Aziz had directed the ministry of water resources to send the CRBC project to the Planning Commission within two days, the source maintained.

The Planning Commission Deputy Chairman wanted to get the summary approved from the CDWP during its next meeting schedule to be held on 29th March. However instead of sending the PC-I the ministry of water resources has started different tactic to create hurdles in the approval of the project, the source said.

If there were technical flaws in the project then why the ministry was setting on the project for so long, the source argued.

The CRBC, a lift-cum-gravity project, will provide perennial irrigation discharge of 73.98 cumecs (cubic meter per second) to irrigate 115,846 hectares of land in DI Khan district. The project begin from Chashma barrage and it will run parallel to the existing CRBC Gravity Canal up to 59 kilometers where a pumping station will be installed. The overall pumping capacity will be 71.72 cumecs of water and that it will be lifted to 19.50 meters for irrigating the land situated at higher elevation on the right side of existing CRBC Gravity Canal up to the border line of Punjab province.

It is pertinent to mention here that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had seeking an amendment to the Irsa Act, 1992, so the provinces could get its payment of around Rs120bn as compensation for underutilization of its water share for more than two decades (1993 to 2015). As per the KP stance, under the 1991 Water Apportionment Accord the province has been given 8.78 million acre feet (MAF) share but due to infrastructure constraints the province could utilitse only 5.77 MAF, which is 34 percent less than its share. The province has alleged that its share had been consumed by Punjab and Sindh.

The demand of the province was rejected by the federal government and instead proposed to develop the provincial infrastructure to tap its full share. CRBC lift project is one of such projects which could enable the province to utilize its share of water.

Finally, in 2016 the Centre and provincial governments enter into an agreement to share the CRBC project's cost. The federal government agreed to pay 65percent and the remaining amount will be provided by the KP government. The federal government has already executed such projects in three provinces including Greater Thal Canal in Punjab, Rainy Canal in Sindh and Kacchi Canal in Balochistan but the CRBC Lift-cum-Gravity project is being delayed by one pretext or other. The delaying tactic in the execution of the project has doubled its cost and increased from around Rs60 billion to around Rs120 billion.

The feasibility of the project has already been conducted and the project. The source said that the technical flaw is just an excuse and the project is being delayed to deprive KP of utilizing its share.


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