Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi chaired the 37th meeting of Council of Common Interest (CCI) held at PM Office on Tuesday during which the CCI unanimously approved the first ever National Water Policy (NWP) of Pakistan.
The meeting was attended by Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Chief Minister Pervez Khattak, Balochistan Chief Minister Abdul Quddus Bizenjo, Federal Ministers and senior officials. Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission of Pakistan Sartaj Aziz briefed the CCI on the draft National Water Policy of Pakistan. He informed that the policy has been prepared after consultation with all major stakeholders and a national level consultative seminar was also held to reach a consensus. Proposals presented in the 36th CCI meeting have also been incorporated in the policy.
Sartaj Aziz further briefed about the salient features of the NWP including water uses and allocation of priorities, integrated planning for development and use of water resources, environmental integrity of the Basin, impact of climate change, trans-boundary water sharing, irrigated and rain-fed agriculture, drinking water and sanitation, hydropower, industry, ground water, water rights and obligations, sustainable water infrastructure, water related hazards, quality management, awareness and research, conservation measures, legal framework and capacity building of water sector institutions.
The NWC shall oversee the implementation of NWP and a Steering Committee, headed by Federal Minister for Water Resources, will monitor the implementation with representatives from federal and provincial governments and concerned departments. After detailed deliberations, the CCI directed the Ministry of Inter-Provincial Coordination, Planning Commission of Pakistan and Ministry of Water Resources to reconcile the claims in consultation with the provinces and resubmit the issue for decision in the next CCI meeting.
A comprehensive national water policy was need of time considering the serious issue of growing water shortage in the country. Currently Pakistan is standing on verge of entering into water scarce countries and special attention of policy makers was required to deal with the issue. Incumbent government faced serious criticism for not giving priority in handling the issue of water shortage, but it is better to late than never. Efforts of CCI should be appreciated to take the step in the right direction. It is also necessary that all the decisions finalized must be implemented as leniency has been witnessed in the past while implementation of the policies.
A comprehensive national water policy was need of time considering the serious issue of growing water shortage in the country.