Asian Development Bank Refuses to Sign Agreement for Greater Thal Canal Construction

Asian Development Bank-Propertybuy-rent

LAHORE: Punjab’s finance minister Mohsin Leghari has stated that refusing to sign the loan agreement with the Asian Development Bank for the construction of the Greater Thal Canal is an act of injustice on the part of the people of Punjab as well as the nation.

Agricultural lands must be irrigated to meet the nutritional needs of a growing population. In Backward Punjab districts such as Khushab, Layyah, Bhakkar, Jhang and Muzaffargarh, Greater Canal Thal will irrigate agricultural lands.

In an interview here Sunday with the Provincial Minister of Irrigation, the minister declared this.

Besides increasing farmers’ difficulties, he explained that hindering the canal’s construction would also economically kill the farmers who rely on the canal to irrigate their fields.

When the federal government fails to sign the loan agreement with ADB, the Punjab government will proceed with the canal project from its resources if the federal government does not sign the loan agreement with ADB.

As far as he was concerned, the Greater Thal Canal project is not new. Despite being started in 1940, the project has been awaiting government attention since the partition. Project completion was assisted by the Asian Development Bank under the PTI government.

A provincial government may obtain loans from international development banks only with permission from the federation.

During one year it took to sign the agreement with the Asian Development Bank, Punjab also experienced regime change.

A contract for the construction of Greater Thal in Punjab was due to be signed on December 12, but the federation refused on the grounds of baseless allegations made against Sindh, he said.

Irrigation of the Greater Thar Canal is wrongly claimed to be done with Sindh water according to Sindh. As Sindh and the Federation are well aware, Punjab is using its water to irrigate the Greater Thal Canal.

The Greater Thal Canal received a regular share of the Inter-Provincial Water Accord of 1991. Moreover, in 2008, IRSA issued a certificate allowing the canal to receive water.

Accordant to the water distribution agreement, the federal government has made Rainy Canal, Khachi Canal, and Chashma Right Bank Canal available to the remaining three provinces in Sindh, Balochistan, and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. However, Punjab was denied the right to build canals.

A Punjab government official said the government would not tolerate injustice being done to the deprived districts. It is not the first time the people of Punjab have been politically victimized over water. There were no aid funds transferred to the province during this period, and the National Financial Award was used to transfer due funds.

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