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January 3, 2017

Tarbela, Mangla to reach dead level in February

Top Story

January 3, 2017

IRSA may ensure vital last watering for wheat but will be unable in case of cotton and rice, the cash crops of Kharif

ISLAMABAD: The stored water in both Tarbela and Mangla dams will reach the dead level by February end if the country does not receive substantial rains, senior official at the Ministry of Water and Power told The News.

Spokesman of IRSA, Mohammad Khalid Rana confirmed saying: “Under the worst scenario, if the country does not receive any reasonable rain, water in both the reservoirs will reach the dead level by February end, but we are hopeful that this appalling situation will not emerge as Allah Almighty will certainly take mercy on us and send necessary rains.” 

The Tarbela Dam currently has stored water of 1,420 feet whereas the dead level stands at 1,380 feet. Likewise, Mangla Dam has stored water of 1,101 feet against its dead level of 1,040 feet, Rana said.

However, IRSA will be able to ensure the last watering that is required to mature the standing crop of wheat in the command areas of canals and the target of 26 million tons will be hopefully achieved. “The wheat crop in Barani areas will not be able to get the water for their maturity,” he apprehended.

Under this scenario, IRSA will not be able to ensure the required watering needed in the early Kharif season meaning thereby that it will affect the Kharif’s cash crops of cotton and rice. “We, however, have positive indications from international meteorological offices that Pakistan may receive rains in various parts of the country very soon which may improve the water flows in Indus, Jhelum and Chenab and Kabul rivers.

“However, we have started storing water in Tarbela Dam by slicing down the outflows from 10,000 cusecs per day to 8,000 cusecs per day,” he said. Against the water storage capacity of the country that stands at 14.01 million acre feet of water, the country currently has 1.37 MAF of stored water in Tarbela, Mangla and Chashma reservoirs. And under this worst scenario, if the country does not receive any substantial rain then the stored water in Tarbela and Mangla dam will reach dead level.

Right now the provinces’ water demands are being met and to this effect, Sindh is being provided 10,000 cusecs per day, Punjab 18,000 cusecs per day. Likewise, Balochistan is being provided 2,000 cusecs per day and KP for CRBC (ChashmaRRight Bank Canal) 3,000 cusecs per day water is being ensured.

To a question, he said that in the month of March, the country will receive water flows in Jehlum, Chenab and Kabul as the said rivers are early water risers. Mr Rana stressed that if the country gets normal pattern of rains in February-March period, then the water flows in Pakistan’s rivers will improve.

He said that as of today, the provinces experienced water deficit of 12 percent against the estimated water scarcity of 17 percent. “However, in case of no rain, the projected water deficit of 17 percent will surge up to 25 percent.”

So far IRSA was required to provide 18 million acre feet of water to all four provinces, but they have been provided 19 MAF of water with an increase of 1 million acre feet of water. IRSA had anticipated the water inflows as of today 10.993 MAF during the ongoing Rabi season, but factually the system has received inflows of 10.609 MAF which is very close to the anticipation.

And more importantly the conveyance losses have reduced to 0.354 MAF against the anticipated losses of 1.283 MAF with the saving of 0.9 MAF of water in the system. Explaining the reasons behind the decline in water losses, he said that evaporation of water has substantially reduced because of low temperature and on top that, this time provinces have come up with better water management.