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September 22, 2019

Winter crops in Punjab, Sindh to face 5.1MAF water shortfall


September 22, 2019

LAHORE: Punjab and Sindh – two major agriculture provinces – are expected to face 5.05 million acre feet (MAF) of water shortage for the upcoming winter crops, a senior official said on Saturday.

The official, citing an assessment for rabi 2019/20, said the Punjab might get 16.03MAF water instead of 18.87MAF as its share under the 1991 Indus water accord, while Sindh is to receive 12.59MAF rather than 14.82MAF. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan are, however, not likely to face any shortage.

The official said an advisory committee of Indus River System Authority is scheduled to meet on Wednesday next week wherein water shortage projections would be finalised.

“We anticipate (water) shortfall of 15 percent if compared with an average system usage,” the official said. The two major provinces might be allocated 31.45MAF of water for meeting their irrigation and other needs.

Rabi season starts from October 1 and ends on March 31. Major winter crops include wheat, sugarcane, oilseeds and citrus.

Since 2010-11, the official said, the last two rabi seasons have been worst in terms of water shortage as about one-third cut in water supply was made in 2017/18 and 2018/19 due to low river flows.

The projected shortage of 5.05MAF or 15 percent of average usage in upcoming season is, however, considered as a moderate level of water scarcity, an official said, citing water availability data of a decade.

Previously, 37.6 percent of water paucity compared with an average usage was assessed in rabi 2018/19. However, water shortfall was reduced to 32 percent later due to better-than-expected rains. For rabi of 2017/18, 36.4 percent cut in water was to be made, while the country braved 17.2 percent low water in rabi 2016/17 compared with an average system usage, the official said.

For winter crops in 2015/16, a downward change of 13.5 percent was seen in water availability against an average use, while only 3.8 percent shortfall was recorded in river flows in rabi 2014/15.

Rabi 2013/14 was almost identical with shortfall of 14.7 percent compared with upcoming winter crops, the official added.

There was 17.2 percent water shortage in river flows during rabi 2012/13, while farmers had to face 9.4 percent of water scarcity in rabi 2011/12.

The official said shortfall in water availability in upcoming season is expected at a moderate level despite low water storage in Mangla dam this year. Against the maximum conservation level of 1,242 feet, water could be stored till 1,222 feet in the dam. Tarbela dam, however, could be filled to its maximum level of 1,550 feet.

Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) showed river flows and reservoirs’ levels on Saturday. River inflows of Indus in Tarbela were recorded at 83,500 cusecs and outflows 125,000 cusecs, the report said. Both inflows and outflows in river Kabul in Nowshera stood at 14,200 cusecs. Inflows in Jhelum river in Mangla were gauged at 17,400 cusecs and outflows 35,000 cusecs. In Chenab river in Marala, inflows were 34,800 cusecs and outflows 5,900 cusecs.

The report further showed that inflows in Jinnah barrage were measured at 148,600 cusecs and outflows 140,200 cusecs. Chashma barrage held inflows of 144,600 cusecs and outflows of 145,000 cusecs. In Taunsa barrage, inflows were 148,000 cusecs and outflows 122,900 cusecs.

In Panjnad, water inflows stood at 21,200 cusecs and outflows 4,900 cusecs. Guddu barrage held inflows of 137,700 cusecs and outflows of 111,400 cusecs. In Sukkur barrage, water inflows stood at 91,000 cusecs and outflows 37,600 cusecs. Kotri barrage held inflows of 52,400 cusecs and outflows of 17,600 cusecs.

The report further said present level in Tarbela is 1,540 feet, minimum operating level 1,392 feet, maximum conservation level 1,550 feet and live storage 5.477MAF. In Mangla, minimum operating level is 1,050 feet, present level 1,218.30 feet, maximum conservation level 1,242 feet, and live storage 5.562MAF.