Punjab and Sindh in row over water distribution

Published: March 31, 2012

20% shortage projected in early Kharif season. DESIGN: FAIZAN DAWOOD

ISLAMABAD: 

Punjab and Sindh on Friday entered a deadlock over negotiations for water distribution during the Kharif season.

A senior official of the Indus River System Authority (Irsa) said that its advisory committee had projected line losses of 40% in the water system in April. Irsa had projected a total shortage of 12% in the entire Kharif season, but earlier in the same season it could reach 20%.

The projections were made in a meeting of Irsa’s Advisory Committee chaired by Irsa Chairman Syed Mazhar Ali Shah.

Sources said Irsa distributes water among the provinces following a 3-tier water distribution formula, whereas Sindh wants to receive its share of the water as per paragraph (2) of the Water Accord, 1991.

Another Irsa official requesting anonymity said “if the availability of water is below 100 million acre feet (MAF) for the Kharif season, then water is distributed among the provinces following a 3-tier formula.”

He added that the total availability of water had been projected to be 98 MAF during the entire season, and therefore distribution would take place under the mentioned formula.

The official said that Irsa would meet again next month to examine the causes of line losses. He said Punjab had expressed strong reservations, demanding that these losses be reduced.

The official said that in the meeting Wapda had informed that all issues including the resettlement of people living near the Mangla Dam had been resolved. The dam was ready to function at its full capacity, he added.

Wapda officials were told that the provision of water for irrigation purposes would be the regulator’s top priority.

Talking to the media after the meeting, Irsa chairman Syed Mazhar Ali Shah informed that Punjab would receive 31.65 MAF, Sindh 28.2 MAF, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 0.8 MAF and Balochistan 2.56 MAF of water for the entire Kharif season.

The agricultural community of Sindh and Punjab feel that output will be affected due to the shortage of water. Cotton, sugarcane and paddy are the major crops of the season.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 31st, 2012.

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