Over the years water demand has been rising. Due to the increase in the cultivated land area and change in cropping pattern. Agriculture is not only the backbone of the economy. But also provides livelihood to more than 70% of the population. It accounts up to 26% GDP and catering of 70% of the overall value of exports. The main output for assumed agriculture productivity is water availability. But there is no extra water for any new Dams in the Indus River system. During the past few years there has a scarcity of water in the country and even the present Dams have not filled to capacity.
Although some proposed Dams are pending due to difference of opinion among different provinces. Especially large Dams like Kalabagh; have become bone of contention between provinces. For long standing disputes among the four provinces. The Government of Pakistan appointed commissions, to resolve the controversy regarding apportionment of the river waters. These included the following committees.
Akhtar Hussan Committee (1968), Fazal-e-Akbar Committee (1970), Anwar-ul-Haq Committee (1981), and Haleem Committee (1983) to resolve water distribution issue between the provinces. However the recommendations of these committees were not acceptable to one or the other provinces and as such could not implemented.
In the absence of a final settlement, the available river supplies were distributed between the provinces by the federal government during 1971-1991. By issuing adhoc sharing orders for each crop season / period of the year. Under these adhoc arrangements, extension of irrigation to new areas or construction of new irrigation projects completely banned. Further development of canal irrigated agriculture almost remained static. However, this system of sharing often resulted into bitterness among provinces, like Punjab, Sindh and NWFP. So the need for early settlement of the water apportionment keenly felt.
Water apportionment accord 1991
To resolve the Inter Provincial issue of river water distribution a major agreement has made among the provinces. This known as “apportionment of water of Indus River System between the provinces of Pakistan 1991”. The 1991 water apportionment accord was a major break through and a turning point in its march towards national consolidation.
The water apportionment accord finally reached between the provinces in 16th March 1991 at Karachi, under the Nawaz Sharif Government.The other representative of the four provinces, Ghulam Haider Wyne (Punjab), Jam Sidiq Ali (Sindh), Mir Afzal Khan (KPK) and Mir Taj Muhammad Jamil (Baluchistan) participated this accord. This agreement adopted as a decision of the Council of Common Interests (C.C.I) on March 21, 1991. This water apportionment accord 1991 consists of 14 paras.
Council of Common Interests
The C.C.I also authorized ten daily seasonal system wise adjusted allocations provided by the provinces to become part and parcel of the accord. The allocation of 114.35 M.A.F mentioned in para 2 of the accord has never been achieved and is not likely to be achieved in future with in the physical limits set by the existing network of storage Dams and canals. Because an account of siltation the storage capacity as Tarbela, Mangla and Chashma has gone down by about 25% i.e.; 3.5 M.A.F. Punjab’s case is that the shortages are to be shared in proportion to the actual uses during the period 1972-82.