Centre puts national water policy on hold
ISLAMABAD: The federal government has put the national water policy on hold because of some constitutional questions and would instead let Punjab take the lead and bring out its provincial integrated water initiative first.
Originally prepared in 2005, the draft National Water Policy (NWP) has been moving in circles at the federal and provincial corridors of power but could not be announced. A lot has since changed on the ground in terms of legal, political and constitutional situation.
For one, the Ministry of Water and Power is no more a relevant forum to coordinate water policy issues between the centre and provinces and among the provinces as one of the fallouts of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution. The role could be performed occasionally by the Inter Provincial Coordination Division.
Second, many critical elements of countrywide water sector issues stand transferred to or taken over by the provinces like irrigation, drainage, on-farm water management, water productivity and salinity,
Third, the provinces have now asked the centre that the NWP should focus on trans-boundary and interprovincial water issues and major hydropower and storage dams on major rivers, etc.
It was in this background that Minister for Water and Power Khwaja Mohammad Asif has reported to parliament that the national policy has been put on hold on the request of the government of Punjab (Irrigation Department Punjab) which is preparing an Integrated Water Use Policy to improve upon the water management issues at the provincial level. “The draft of the (provincial) policy would be finalised by the end of June 2016,” the minister reported.
Consequently, the water and power ministry, in the light of deliberations of brainstorming session, is “reviewing the overall structure of the NWP and it is targeted that by the end of August this year — after finalisation of Punjab’s Integrated Water Use Policy — the revised draft of the NWP would be finalised and re-circulated to the stakeholders for confirmation,” he said, adding that the finalised NWP document would be processed for approval through the Ministry of Inter-Provincial Coordination.
At present, there is no approved National Water Policy. A draft NWP was prepared in 2005 by the Ministry of Water and Power after a detailed policy study by the World Bank-funded consultants and intensive consultation with stakeholders through 19 meetings and workshops. However, the policy documents could not be processed or approved by the cabinet.
In 2010, the decision to update the draft NWP was taken by taking stock of the latest developments in the water sector, especially the climate change and its impact on water resources. Subsequently, a joint committee headed by the adviser for the water and power ministry, with members from Wapda, Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC) and Water Sector Capacity Building and Advisory Services Project (WCAP), was constituted to finalise the draft NWP document.
The committee, after detailed consultations and deliberations, finalised the draft NWP document. In addition, the recommendations of the Report of Water Sector Task Force of Friends of Democratic Pakistan completed in October, 2012, were also taken into consideration while finalising the policy document.
When sent for vetting, the Ministry of Law and Justice held that “Legislative List of the Constitution, 1973, (4th Schedule), does not possess any such provision with regard to water policy, etc. As such it is evident that it is a provincial subject and federal ministry, if considers necessary, may issue this policy, in consultation with provinces through IPC”.
Subsequently, the draft NWP document was circulated by Ministry of Water and Power to provincial governments, all concerned stakeholders and eminent water experts for their views and comments. The crux of this exercise that all stakeholders wanted policy should explicitly describe the role of federal and provincial governments to spell out prime, lead and shared or subordinate role of provinces in the light of the Constitution.
The stakeholders also agreed that policy should not include irrigation, drainage, on-farm water management, irrigation practices, land reclamation, water productivity, salinity and water logging control, etc. as these areas have been the provincial responsibility even before the 18th Amendment.
There was a general consensus that the NWP should focus on trans-boundary water, inter-provincial water conflicts, hydropower dams on Indus Main and major tributaries, management of glaciers and snow in higher altitude and glaciated zone, river management and river health, mega infrastructure-inter-provincial irrigation, drainage and large dams outside Indus basin, and the environmental flows.
Published in Dawn, June 21st, 2016
Relatetd link http://www.waterpakistan.com/hisaar-launch-of-recommendations-for-pakistans-national-water-policy-framework/