Water crisis: Irsa forms panel to probe discharges from barrages

Spokesman says Sindh, Punjab respectively facing 53%, 47% water shortage in Kharif season

Zafar Bhutta May 16, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Amid worst water crisis during Kharif season, Punjab on Monday raised the issue of heavy losses of water from Taunsa barrage to Kotri barrage as the Indus River System Authority (Irsa) formed a committee to probe discharges from the barrages.

The committee headed by Irsa director operations and comprising its regulation directors from Punjab and Sindh will measure discharges at the Guddu and other barrages. An estimated 1 million acre feet (MAF) water gets wasted between Taunsa and Kotri.

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A water shortage has hit crops producing provinces – Sindh and Punjab – and is posing serious threats to Kharif crops. Kharif season lasts from April 1 to November 30 and rice, sugarcane, cotton and maize are among its key crops.

In view of the situation, Irsa held an emergency meeting on Monday. The meeting was chaired by Irsa Chairman Ahmed Kamal and attended by its members from Sindh, Balochistan, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkwa (K-P), Wapda chief engineer hydrology and director met department.

Irsa spokesperson Khalid Rana said it was observed during the meeting that water inflows remained 15% below anticipation. The water inflows in rivers had been anticipated at 9.32 MAF but actual inflows had been 7.9 MAF which were 15% less.

“Sindh is facing 53% water shortages whereas Punjab is facing 47% water shortage,” he said.

The representative of met department told participants that there is no change in present situation and the monsoon situation will be predicted in mid of June. However, Wapda officials said there has been reported 50% less snow in catchment areas.

The spokesperson said the country is now mainly dependent on monsoon. “Irsa will again review water situation in mid-June after issuance of monsoon predictions by met department,” he added.

He said all members once again laid emphasis on construction of new dams. After complaint by Balochistan, Sindh agreed to take immediate steps to overcome shortages in Balochistan.

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In view of the present rain spell, Irsa had changed the regulation and had increased provincial shares. The water shares of Punjab province had been increased from 56,000 to 64,000 cusecs and of Sindh from 43,000 to 55,000 cusecs. The share of Balochistan is 5,000 cusecs and of the K-P, 3,100 cusecs.

Two major water reservoirs – Tarbela and Mangla – had reached dead level several times due to less water inflows in rivers. The water crisis has not only caused threat to Kharif crops but it has also led to drop in hydel generation to an alarming level, causing load shedding across the country.

Irsa advisory committee which met on March 29 had projected 31% water shortages in early Kharif during sowing season causing serious threats for Kharif crops due to higher losses and less water inflows. The committee had projected that Punjab and Sindh would face 31% water shortage. But the water situation is worse now.


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