Friday April 12, 2024

Tarbela Dam’s constraints may hit cash crop in Sindh

The work by Wapda on T-3 and T-4 was to be completed by October-November 2023

By Khalid Mustafa
March 25, 2024
The Tarbela Dam in Pakistan. — WAPDA Website/File
The Tarbela Dam in Pakistan. — WAPDA Website/File

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is likely to face water deficit in early Kharif mainly in the wake of technical constraints in the Tarbela Dam, which may adversely impact the sowing of cash crops in Sindh – cotton, vegetation, sugarcane and seedlings of rice crops. Tarbela Dam at Indus is the main source to cater to irrigational needs of the four federating units — Sindh, Punjab, KP and Balochistan.

“Wapda has failed to complete the construction of work on three tunnels, T-3, T-4, and T-5 even after the deadlines passed, which is why the Indus River System Authority will not be able to draw water from low-level intakes. “We have to first store water in Tarbela and raise the water level to high level intakes and then water would be provided to Sindh for its early Kharif crops. This would cause water shortage in the early Kharif season impacting the crops in Sindh,” a senior official of IRSA told the News.

In Sindh, the sowing of cotton, seedlings of rice and vegetation starts in early Kharif, which begins on April 1 and ends on June 10. From mid-May, the sowing of cotton begins in various pockets of Punjab depending upon the cutting of wheat crop.

The work by Wapda on T-3 and T-4 was to be completed by October-November 2023 but is still ongoing. However, on T-5, the construction work is to be completed in 33 months. With the completion of the projects such as T-3, T-4 and T-5, Tarbela Dam would have the capacity to generate hydro generation of 6,298 MWs.

Officials at IRSA confirmed to The News that the technical committee to this effect would meet today (Monday) and discuss its preliminary findings about the water availability in the Kharif season. It will discuss the projects given the Tarbela dam’s constraints and report of the PMD (Pakistan Meteorological Department) on the ice cap in catchment areas of rivers.

During the ongoing Rabi season that ends on March 31, water shortage of 15 percent has been estimated. The figure will be finalized on March 31.

The IRSA technical committee would finalize the projections about water availability of advisory committee, which is most likely to meet in the first week of April.

According to the existing and latest water data, the country has right now stored water of 0.490 MAF. Some 0.342 million acres of feet (MAF) water is available in Tarbela at Indus and 0.168 MAF in Mangla at Jehlum and 0.016 MAF at Chashma.