Water woes: Severe water crisis under way in Sindh, fear officials

This will not only affect growers, but also the power generation.

September 05, 2014

SUKKUR: With little or no rainfall in the catchment area to fill up the Tarbela Dam, a severe water crisis seems to be looming large.

While there is little water being stored, the amount of water that is discharged to growers is ever-increasing, leaving even less water in the storage.

This crisis will not only affect growers of crops, but also the electric power generation. In the wake of little or no rainfall during this year’s monsoon season, the inflow of water has considerably reduced. On top of that, more water is being discharged in the downstream to meet the needs of the farmers.

According to a weather advisory issued by the Pakistan Meteorological Department, heavy rains are likely to continue over north-east Punjab and its adjoining areas during the next 72 hours, which might result in serious flooding of the Jhelum, Ravi and Sutlej rivers and their tributaries.

Sources in the irrigation department told The Express Tribune that heavy rainfall taking place in different parts of Punjab has resulted in the flooding of its eastern rivers, including Chenab, Ravi and Sutlej. This will likely add 200,000 to 250,000 cusecs of water in the Indus that is badly needed for flushing away the tonnes of silt that have settled in the barrages.

This water will be sufficient for the flushing operation, but heavy rains are needed in the catchment areas to fill the Tarbella Dam to its full capacity of 1,550 feet. In case of no rainfall taking place in the catchment areas during this month, growers of Sindh will have to brace for at least 50 per cent water shortage during the upcoming Rabi season which will eventually affect the Rabi crops, including wheat.

Sukkur Barrage control room in-charge Abdul Aziz Soomro said that currently, the pond level at the Tarbela Dam was 1,534 feet with an inflow of 97,000 cusecs and outflow of 135,000 cusecs. According to him, the Kabul River was flowing with 18,000 cusecs of water, while the upstream at Kalabagh was 126,000 cusecs and the downstream was 118,000 cusecs. At Chashmsa barrage, the upstream was 166,000 cusecs and downstream was 165,000 cusecs, while at Taunsa barrage, the upstream was 154,000 cusecs and the downstream was 127,000 cusecs. The upstream at Guddu barrage was 121,000 cusecs and the downstream was 95,000 cusecs.

He added that the upstream at Sukkur barrage is 83,000 cusecs and the downstream is 30,000 cusecs, while at the Kotri barrage, the upstream is 29,000 cusecs and only 3,000 cusecs water is being released in its downstream.

According to Soomro, last year on September 4, the upstream at Sukkur barrage was more than 250,000 cusecs while today it is only 83,000 cusecs. Because of this shortage, silt cannot be flushed out of the right and left pockets of the barrage.

“We need 250,000 cusecs or more of water to flush out the tonnes of silt settled in the downstream,” he said, adding that he was optimistic that the eastern rivers in Punjab will add 200,000 to 250,000 cusecs in the Indus, which will help in the flushing operation.

If no rains take place in the catchment areas during this month, he said that he was foreseeing a 25 per cent water shortage during the early Rabi season starting from October 1. The shortage might stretch to more than 50 per cent by the seasons end around March 31, he added.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 6th, 2014.


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