ISLAMABAD: Already behind schedule due to the water shortage, the Indus River System Authority (Irsa) has decided to increase the water flow to Punjab and Sindh in order to jack up Kharif crop sowing.
Changing weather patterns with a prolonged cold wave lasting halfway through March resulted in farmers sitting idle in Sindh rather than doing what they do best when the crop season starts. Water levels in Mangla and Tarbela reservoirs have reached an alarming level.
“Farmers depend on tube wells run by electricity to overcome the water shortage for crop sowing,” a farmer from Punjab said adding that they have also been facing series of power outages since the start of the Kharif.
The water shortage will lead to the country missing all crop production targets for the Kharif season.
Irsa released 182,000 cusecs of water from 172,000 for Sindh while Punjab received 134,000 against the previous 128,000. Irsa is providing 4,000 cusecs for Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and 14,000 cusecs to Balochistan to meet the demands of the agriculture sector. An official of the Water and Power Ministry said that the country was facing a power crisis and increase in water share for provinces would also boost hydel power generation and ease load-shedding.
Irsa Spokesman Khalid Idrees Rana said that significant rainfall is expected in central and upper parts of the country which will further increase water inflows in rivers.
Inflows in Indus River at Tarbela stand at 222,300 cusecs against outflows of 160,000, 81,700 cusecs inflows in Kabul River at Nowshera, 232,200 cusecs in Indus at Chashma, 49,900 in Jhelum at Mangla and 64,800 cusecs water inflows in Chenab River at Marala.
Official said that glaciers were melting due to rise in temperature and it was expected that water inflows would further improve in rivers.
At present, the water level in Tarbela stands at 1,407.85 feet against the previous level of 1,378 cusecs and Mangla at 1,119.70 feet against previous level of 1,040 feet while Chashma’s level has increased to level of 637 feet. The live storage in Tarbela is 0.470 Million Acre Feet (MAF), Mangla 1.003 MAF and 0.174 MAF in Chashma.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 6th, 2012.
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