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May 16, 2018

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Irsa increases water shortage from 31pc to 42pc for Kharif

ISLAMABAD: The Indus River System Authority (Irsa) in an emergency meeting on Tuesday increased projection of water shortage to a worrisome conservative figure of 42 percent for early Kharif season, a major challenge for crops, especially in Punjab and Sindh provinces.

Due to worsening water shortage in the country’s rivers, the Authority held an emergency meeting on Tuesday and revised the water shortage from earlier 31 pc to 42 percent, however, the officials who attended the meeting told The News that the committee members were of the view that in real terms the shortage would be 48 pc while to the media, 42 pc figure was released. Chairman Irsa, Ahmed Kamal chaired the meeting.

During the meeting, Punjab province objected on heavy losses from Taunsa to Kotri barrages which is around 1 million acre feet (MAF). A committee was formed under chairmanship of Director Operation Irsa with directors’ regulation Punjab and Sindh as members to measure discharges at Guddu and other barrages of the country.

The meeting was attended by Members of Sindh, Balochistan, Punjab, chief engineer hydrology Wapda and Director Metrological department.

It was observed that water shortage has been hitting the crops producing provinces-Sindh and Punjab which is posing serious threats to sowing Kharif crops.

Kharif season lasts from April 1 to November 30, and rice, sugarcane, cotton and maize are some of the key crops.

Spokesperson Irsa Khalid Rana said that it was observed that water inflows remained 15 percent below anticipation. The water inflows in rivers had been anticipated at 9.32 MAF but actual inflows had been 7.9 MAF which were 15 per cent less. Sindh was facing 53 per cent water shortages whereas Punjab was facing 47 per cent water shortage.

The representative of Metrological department informed the participants of the meeting that there was no change in present situation and monsoon situation would be predicted in mid of June. However, Wapda officials said that there had been reported 50 percent less snow in catchments.

Spokesperson said that country was now mainly dependent on monsoon. He added that IRSA would again review water situation in mid-June after issuance of monsoon predictions by Metrological department.

All members once again emphasised on construction of new dams. Following complaint of Balochistan, Sindh agreed to take immediate steps to overcome shortages in Balochistan.

Keeping in view the present rain spell IRSA had changed the regulation and had increased provincial shares. The water share of Punjab province had been increased from 56000 to 64,000 cusecs, Sindh from 43,000 to 55,000 cusecs. The share of Balochistan stands at 5,000 and KP 3,100 cusecs.

The water storage in two major reservoirs i.e. Tarbela and Mangla had reached dead level several times due to less water inflows in rivers. The water crisis has not only caused threat to Kharif crops but it also led to drop in hydel generation to alarming level causing series of loadshedding across the country.

It is worth mentioning that the Irsa Advisory Committee which met on March 29 had projected 31 per cent water shortages in early Kharif season due to higher losses and less water inflows into rivers. The committee had projected that Punjab and Sindh would face 31 per cent water shortage. But water shortage had been worst now.

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