ISLAMABAD: A appeal by the Capital Development Authority (CDA) for the immediate release of two million gallons of water per day (MGD) from Rawal Lake to Islamabad City has been turned down by the Punjab Irrigation Department, relating it to clearance of pending liabilities.
In its response to the CDA’s proposal to restore the supply of the two MGDs of water which had been disconnected in 1996, the Department of Irrigation recommended that the Civic Agency pay Rs32.35 million for the water previously supplied to Islamabad.
The water charges are, aside from the dues, another controversy concerning the resumption of supply. Although the CDA needs to pay Rs0.19 per 1,000 gallons of water at the old rate, the Department of Irrigation of Punjab expects about Rs6 per 1,000 gallons on the basis that the same rates from the 1960s have to be updated.
In a letter to the CDA, the Department of Irrigation decided, in theory, to restore the supply of two MGD water from Rawal Lake to Islamabad “Subject to the approval by the Government of Punjab of the rates for the supply of this water.”
A senior official of the Irrigation Department, speaking to Dawn from Lahore, said the water rate was a serious problem not only with the CDA but also with the Rawalpindi Water and Sanitation Authority (Wasa).
Besides clearance of dues, provincial irrigation dept also wants revision in water charges
The problem is that if it is agreed to restore water supply on condition that updated prices are applicable, the problem will never be resolved until they are finalised, and CDA will continue to pay at the rate of 19 paisa per 1,000 gallons of water recorded in the 1960s, the official said.
While Rawal Lake is located in Islamabad, it was constructed on the Korang River, the major catchments of which are the Murree hills, and the water belongs to the province of Punjab.
In addition, the Irrigation Department of Punjab has the technological ability to build, run and manage dam systems, including their spillways. Thus it was agreed in the 1960s that Rawal Lake would be under the authority of the Punjab Irrigation Department’s Small Dams Organisation (SDO).
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on CDA Affairs and Member of the National Assembly of NA-53 Islamabad Ali Nawaz Awan initiated the drive to recover the water supply from the lake. In October, the CDA wrote a letter to the government of Punjab to resume supplies.
Mr Awan, who is also the convenor of the Standing Committee on Water Management subcommittee of the National Assembly, took up the matter at a committee meeting last month.
The committee was told by the CDA that the unpaid dues would be cleared for the water supplied from Rawal Lake. The issue has however, yet to be settled.
Ayaz Khan, Member of CDA Engineering, said the two MGD lake waters would be supplied to the I-8, I-9 and I-10 fields, and the pipeline to be shipped to the Sports Complex treatment plant would be made operational.
However, only after the water prices are agreed can the supply be restored. For two MGD water, the CDA needs to pay Rs1,140 per month, while the Punjab Irrigation Department asks for more than Rs360,000 per month.