Sindh, Punjab provinces face water shortage
* IRSA increases water inflow by 5,000 cusecs from Mangla reservoir for Punjab
* Authority calls emergency meeting of advisory committee on 22nd
By Zafar Bhutta
ISLAMABAD: The provinces of Sindh and Punjab are facing a water shortage of 35,000 cusecs/day, troubling the sowing of Kharif crops, a senior official of the Indus River System Authority (IRSA) told Daily Times on Tuesday.
The official said that the primary reason behind the water shortage was the 25 percent less snowfall this year, as compared to previous years. He said the Metrological Department had predicted that this could result in the country having 25 percent less water inflows.
The first meeting of IRSA at the beginning of the Kharif season had predicted that the country could face seven percent water shortage, but the authority has now changed its stance and believes the shortage could be closer to 20 percent. This could result in Kharif crops, especially cotton, not meeting their set targets. The official said that the country had also failed to achieve its set target of wheat during the Rabi season, receiving only 21.8 million tonnes against a target of 24 million tonnes. He said the water shortage was also responsible for the power deficit that now exceeds 3,000MW per day.
Increased flow: He said Punjab had demanded an increase in the water inflow from Mangla Dam to provide water for Kharif crops. To help the farmers, the authority increased the water inflow by 5,000 cusecs from 35,000 cusecs/day to 40,000 cusecs/day, he added. He said the water inflows were still below estimate. He said the sowing season in Punjab was at its peak and the province required more water for irrigation purposes currently, especially for cotton crops.
The official said that the collective water inflow in the five rivers of the Indus River System were at a 10-year low. He said it was at 163,000 cusecs on Tuesday, while 205,000 cusecs was required for the Kharif crops. He said the reduced inflows were a result of global weather changes, adding that snowfall in Skardu has not melted because the temperature is too low.
The water inflow at the Tarbela reservoir was recorded at 59,000 cusecs on Tuesday, while the outflow stood at the same level. The inflows have shown an improvement, as they had stood at 51,700 cusecs earlier. However, the water storage level in the country’s largest reservoir is still at dead level.
Similarly, the water inflow in the river Jhelum at Mangla reservoir now stands at 43,000 cusecs against the outflow of 4,000 cusecs per day. The water storage level of the Mangla reservoir also continue to rise and at present the water storage level has reached 1,095 cusecs per day against the dead level of 1,040 cusecs.
Emergency meeting: IRSA has called an emergency meeting of its advisory committee on May 20 to review the water shortage in the country. The meeting was originally scheduled for May 15, but was delayed on the request of the Sindh Irrigation secretary.