Agriculture woes: Sindh’s barrages facing 30% water shortage

Published: January 8, 2017
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SUKKUR: All three barrages in Sindh – the Guddu, Sukkur and Kotri – are running with more than 30% water shortage. This is already affecting the last spell of Rabi crops and will have a negative impact on the early Kharif crops as well.

The closure of all seven off-taking canals of the Sukkur Barrage from January 6 to January 20 for annual repairs and maintenance might further complicate the situation.

All seven off-taking canals have been closed from midnight of January 5 and all the gates of the Sukkur Barrage were raised to release the water in the downstream to facilitate cleaning and oiling of the gates of the barrage and its canals. This practice is done every year, during which all the gates of the barrage and its canals are thoroughly inspected and greased. The filter blocks of the barrage and canals are also inspected and repaired if any faults are found.

Sukkur Barrage control room incharge Abdul Aziz Soomro told The Express Tribune that the gates of the barrage and its canals remain underwater throughout the year and therefore it is important to inspect and grease them for smooth operation. This operation will continue till January 20 and then all the barrage’s gates will once again be lowered at midnight, he said.

Talking about the closure of the canals, Soomro said, water is not needed immediately for the Rabi crop because the wheat crop does not need much water at this time. “However, the standing wheat crop will require water next month and as we are already facing more than 30% shortage of water, it might affect water supply for irrigation purposes,” he explained. “Unless ample rainfall takes place in the catchment areas this month, the shortage will continue till the beginning of the Kharif crop season,” he warned.

According to him, the pond level at the Tarbella Dam on Saturday was 1,424.05 feet, the inflow was 18,700 cusecs and outflow was 7,500 cusecs. “Keeping in view the pond level of the dam, we can say that this pond level will be reduced to zero within a month, after which we will become dependent upon the flow of the river,” said Soomro. On Saturday the upstream at the Guddu Barrage was 17,536 cusecs and the downstream was 7,580 cusecs, at the Sukkur Barrage the upstream and downstream was 12,904 cusecs and at the Kotri Barrage the upstream and downstream was 2,062 cusecs.

The North Sindh Urban Services Corporation (NSUSC) failed to take measures for the smooth supply of drinking water to the citizens. The jetty meant for sucking water from the left bank to the right bank has yet to be completed, despite the fact that millions of rupees have been spent on this project during the last four years.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 8th, 2017.

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