Dry battle: Punjab lodges complaint against water losses in Sindh

Published: July 11, 2019
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The letter states that Sindh’s irrigation department has been claiming that the water losses between Punjab and Guddu Barrage range between 19% and 28%, which is “not conceivable”. PHOTO: FILE

The letter states that Sindh’s irrigation department has been claiming that the water losses between Punjab and Guddu Barrage range between 19% and 28%, which is “not conceivable”. PHOTO: FILE

LAHORE: Punjab and Sindh have entered into a new water dispute. The Punjab government, in a written complaint filed with the Indus River System Authority (Irsa), has maintained that the Sindh irrigation department has deliberately and wrongfully installed water gauges at Guddu Barrage.

In addition, the complaint maintains, Sindh’s irrigation department is making use of seven-year old discharge table for ascertaining water discharge instead of the updated table. Consequently, the amount of water losses resulting from irrigation operations at Guddu Barrage in Sindh has reached 28%, which they called “not conceivable”.

All of the country’s provinces have had years-long understanding for management and supply of water. According to the agreement, any province where water losses go beyond 5% will prepare a new water discharge table.

Farmers demand water supply to Sindh from both Tarbela, Mangla dams

Taking notice of the complaint, Irsa Chairman Sher Zaman Khan has set up a committee to monitor water supply at Guddu Barrage. The committee will also review the water gauges and discharge status at Sukkur and Kotri barrages and submit its report to the chairman. Earlier, Punjab’s irrigation department sent a letter to Irsa on June 20 in which it maintained that its teams had obtained details of water discharge levels at Guddu barrage.

According to the findings, the letter maintained, Sindh’s irrigation department has been gauging water levels from the discharge table prepared in 2011-12, adding that the department has also wrongfully placed its gauge machines 130 feet from head regulators instead of placing them on the dedicated gauge wells. These machines should be at a distance of 1,000 feet from the head regulators and directed downstream, the letter explains.

The letter further states that Sindh’s irrigation department has been claiming that the water losses between Punjab and Guddu Barrage range between 19% and 28%, which is “not conceivable”. The letter demands that Irsa launch an immediate inquiry.

On the chairman’s instructions, Irsa operations director has formed a committee, which includes the operations director himself, the authority’s members for Sindh and Punjab, and one representative each from the provincial authorities concerned.

The committee has also been told of the inspection schedule of the barrages.

According to the schedule, the committee started to monitor Guddu Barrage from July 9, while the inspection will be complete by the end of the day on July 10. The committee will then inspect Sukkur Barrage and related canals between July 14 and July 17, while also recording the water discharge levels.

Similarly, the inspection for Kotri Barrage would take place between July 19 and July 21. After monitoring all of the barrages, the committee will present a report to the Irsa chairman.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 11th, 2019.

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