The Punjab Water Council (PWC) has opposed any increase in the present canal irrigation water rate per acre as proposed by the Planning Commission to bridge the gap between revenue collection and operational and maintenance cost. PWC President Hamid Malhi said on Wednesday that the economic planners must keep in mind the conditions of law & order in the rural areas where might has always been right, where Wapda is unable to collect its dues, where Agriculture tax recoveries are never according to the levied estimates, existing Abiana is never fully recovered. It is not just the farmer to blame, the collection machinery is equally responsible in the whole mess. Before planning for increased Abiana rates it is important that the collection process is put in order at first, Malhi added. Secondly, he asked why should the farmer pay for the lavish spending of departments where he is not represented in policy making or project review.
Huge fund wasting projects are initiated just to get kick backs without the consultation or a review mechanism of the stakeholders. The farmer cannot be made to pay for the extravagant spending on the establishment of the PIDAs in all the four provinces, which were approved by the Planning Commission, but nobody today takes the blame of this huge wastage of 33 billion rupees of foreign loan amount.
Where is the saved water of the national watercourse lining project approved by the Planning Commission in which Rs60 billion were dumped as an alternative to Kala Bagh Dam during the Musharraf rule. Malhi further said that the current surge in prices of HSD has added to the miseries of the farmer who is already groaning under the burden of 16 per cent GST on all agriculture inputs. Lack of rains and less river water has raised the cost of production many times. Not only this, the planners have opened the flood gates of subsidized Indian agriculture products into Pakistan.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2012