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President Alvi blocks transfer to neutralise Irsa’s powers

by Pakistan Latest News Update

ISLAMABAD: President Arif Alvi has blocked promulgation of an ordinance, moved by the caretaker authorities simply earlier than the tip of its time period that apparently sought to neutralise the powers of the Indus River System Authority (Irsa) bypassing the Council of Frequent Pursuits (CCI).
Knowledgeable sources mentioned the president rejected the proposed amendments to the 1991 Irsa Act on the grounds that such a important matter involving the pursuits and rights of the federating items shouldn’t be thought-about in haste by an unrepresentative administration.
The proposed amendments meant diluting the collective powers of Irsa, comprising 4 provincial and a federal member. It additionally sought to limit the provinces to carry the place of Irsa Chairman, presently on annual rotation foundation and as an alternative substitute it with a md at all times to be appointed by the federal authorities.
As a substitute, it gave overwhelming powers to the chairman chosen by the prime minister to rule the roost by means of his handpicked “independent consultants and experts” in important decision-making referring to irrigation system.

As if that was not sufficient, an officer of the water sources ministry holding a number of different posts, was to behave because the Irsa chairman within the absence an everyday chairman of the water regulator, changing the place of the chief engineering adviser/chairman of federal flood fee (CEA/CFCC) who has to carry out tasks of the chairman or federal member of Irsa.

Proposed modifications to 1991 Irsa Act had been rejected on grounds that such a important matter shouldn’t be thought-about by caretakers

The sources mentioned the amendments to the Irsa Act had been handed by caretaker federal cupboard within the final week of January on the clearance of the Cupboard Committee on Legislative Circumstances (CCLC) led by legislation minister Ahmad Irfan Aslam who additionally holds the portfolio of water sources.
The assembly of the CCLC which cleared the proposed amendments to the 1992 Irsa Act on January 26 was additionally attended by caretaker Minister for Defence Anwar Ali Hyder and caretaker Minister for Planning and Improvement Sami Saeed.
The sources mentioned that Planning Minister Sami Saeed strongly opposed amendments to the Irsa Act saying it was a really delicate matter and must be averted by the caretaker authorities. In his opinion, Irsa was created by the CCI as a part of the 1991 Water Apportionment Act and solely the CCI had the constitutional jurisdiction over Irsa issues.
“Through these proposed changes, we would be pitting the provinces against the federation,” Mr Saeed was quoted as saying whereas insisting that his dissenting viewpoint must be made a part of the abstract to the cupboard if the CCLC didn’t change its stance.
The matter was subsequently taken up within the cupboard assembly on January 30 however was deferred for additional debate.

In a subsequent assembly two days later, the cupboard endorsed the CCLC selections of January 26 and 31 together with draft amendments, permitting the ministry of legislation to maneuver the case to the President for promulgation of the ordinance.
The President, nonetheless, rejected the proposed ordinance for being of far-reaching penalties and higher be left to elected representatives of the provinces due in a few weeks and to the related constitutional discussion board.
At current, Irsa has 5 members representing the provinces and the federal authorities. One of many members has to behave as chairman for a time period of 1 yr on rotation foundation.
The draft ordinance required that the submit of chairman be separated from the members and it must be appointed immediately by the prime minister as an alternative of the federal or provincial governments as required below the unique act.
As well as, Irsa may coopt different members as effectively however on the advice of the chairman, who would “be an employee of the federal government, either serving or retired in BPS-21” on such phrases and situations as could also be decided by the prime minister.
The draft legislation sought to limit the provincial governments to method CCI for being aggrieved by any choice of Irsa and as an alternative required the evaluation to be filed earlier than the Irsa chairman who was to determine the matter by means of talking orders on the idea of consultations with an impartial professional committee appointed by the chairman. On high of this, such a call of the Chairman (a Grade 21 officer) “shall be final and shall not be called in question before any court, forum or authority, except the CCI”.
To downgrade the provincial illustration, the proposed ordinance instructed creation of the submit of a vice chairman of Irsa to be nominated on rotation foundation from amongst the members. To sidestep the Supreme Court docket judgement defining the federal authorities as the cupboard as an alternative of the minister or the prime minister, the draft legislation changed the phrases the “federal government” explicitly with the “prime minister” to keep away from collective choice making in such appointments.
Printed in Daybreak, February 12th, 2024

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