Kharif season: Country to lose about 20% water to system leaks

Published: March 30, 2013

Owing to shortage of water, the Indus River System Authority (Irsa) had asked provinces to delay crop plantations to April 15, 2012 till snow melting on glaciers, leading to increased water flow into rivers. PHOTO: FILE


Pakistan will lose 21% of water because of system losses in the upcoming Kharif season beginning April 1 during which major crops – cotton, sugarcane and rice – will be cultivated.

The advisory committee of Indus River System Authority (Irsa), which met here on Friday with Irsa Chairman Asjad Imtiaz Ali in the chair, discussed availability and distribution of water to provinces in the Kharif season.

The committee was of the view that 110 million acre feet (MAF) of water would be available this season, but 23 MAF (21%) would be lost because of leakages in the system.

Jhelum and Chenab zone will lose 10% of water in early season and 15% later. In Indus zone, water loss will be 40%.

For provinces, 67.25 MAF of water will be available in canals and in early season, shortage will be 6%. Members of the committee decided that provinces would be supplied water according to their demand as 10 MAF more water would be available this time compared to the previous season.

However, if the country faces a shortage, provinces would be taken on board and asked to share the burden.

“There will be no shortage of water during the entire Kharif season. This time, 10 MAF more water will be available compared to the previous season,” an Irsa official told The Express Tribune. Overall, the country would also have carry-over stock of 11.5 MAF, he said.

Talking to the media after the meeting, Irsa spokesman Khalid Idrees Rana said 10 MAF of water would be released downstream of Kotri.

He said Punjab would get 33.6 MAF of water and Sindh 30.25 MAF for cultivating Kharif crops. Balochistan will get 2.6 MAF and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa will receive 0.8 MAF.

He further said the big reservoirs of Tarbela and Mangla would be filled in August up to 1,550 and 1,242 feet respectively.

He ruled out any shortage of water in the Kharif season, which will run from April to September, following an increase in temperature in the Himalayas, leading to melting of snow and making more water available for irrigation and hydropower generation.

For the earlier part of last season, Irsa had projected 21% water shortage, noting slow melting of snow because of low temperature and Mangla and Tarbela reservoirs dropping to dead levels. Irsa also asked provinces to delay crop plantations until April 15, 2012 to wait for melting of snow on the glaciers.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 30th, 2013.

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