Donors refuse to fund large water projects
* IMF, WB stress better water management
* Insist on implementation of water pricing mechanism
ISLAMABAD: Donor agencies on Wednesday did not respond positively on Pakistan’s request for funding future big water reservoirs and instead emphasised that Pakistan should save 32 million acre feet (MAF) of water which is wasted every year in the saline zone because of improper lining of water courses and canals.
The donors include the international Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank (WB), Asian Development Bank (ADB), Islamic Development Bank (IDB), the United Arab Emirates, Sweden and Japan.
During the discussion session after presentations by Minister of Water and Power Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao and the deputy chairman Planning Division on the last day of Pakistan Development Forum (PDF), the donors stressed for the immediate implementation of the Water Pricing Mechanism (WPM) in Pakistan. The agencies were of the view that with the implementation of WPM, people would use water rationally. Head of the Resident Mission of World Bank John Wall also stressed the need for institutional reforms in the water sector. However, Mr Wall supported the establishment of a water council, which Mr Sherpao had mentioned in his presentation.
Head of the Resident Mission of the Asian Development Bank Marshul Ali Shah said Pakistan should first have a national water policy approved by the cabinet and develop consensus on the controversial projects which are mentioned in the presentation like the Kalabagh Dam, the Greater Thal Canal Project, and then ask for the funding. Mr Shah also stressed the need to resolve the problems in the National Drainage Programme.
The representative of Sweden said the Kalabgha Dam should be a consensus project and the government should have the political will to initiate the project.
The representative of Japan expressed concern on the substandard quality of drinking water in most parts of Pakistan and said the country needed effective steps to eradicate water pollution. He said “bad” governance in the water sector was on the rise.
Earlier, Mr Sherpao in his presentation said the government has increased the fund allocation for water projects by 22 percent in the Public Sector Development Programme and sought the constant focus of investors and donors for 6 mega water dams including the Kalabagh Dam and 11 hydropower projects. The minister said these projects needed over $33 billion to be completed. “However, Pakistan wants US $ 500 million in funds every year from the donors for a 10-year period,” he said. Deputy Chairman of the Planning Division Shahid Amjad Chaudhry in his presentation said 32 MAF water which was being wasted could be saved. He said the irrigation system in Sindh needed to be revamped. He demanded multinational donors fund the Flood Protection Project. However, the poor homework done by the Ministry of Water and Power and the Planning Division was exposed when the donors pointed out differences in the figures quoted by Mr Sherpao and Mr Chaudhry in their separate presentations on the availability of water in the country. Noor Mohammad Baloch, the Sindh member in the Indus River System Authority (IRSA) said the lower riparian water rights should be safeguarded while initiating water projects. Mr Sherpao assured the donors that the WPM would be implemented as the government was in touch with the provincial governments about it. He said provincial irrigation and power departments would be decentralised.