Irsa projects big water shortage

Indus River System Authority (Irsa) on Monday projected a 35 percent water shortage for crops in upcoming Kharif season staring from April 1, 2017 fearing further cuts in water shares of Punjab and Sindh. The estimates of water shortage have been calculated at a meeting of Irsa''s technical committee headed by Director Operation (DP) Rana Khalid and was attended by Director Regulation Sindh and Punjab, Chief Engineer Irrigation Balochistan, Xen Regulation KPK and Director Wapda. However the final projections would be calculated in forthcoming meeting of Advisory committee''s meeting which is scheduled on March 31.

Irsa had projected an 18 percent water shortage for Sindh and Punjab in Rabi 2016, which commenced from October 2016. The source said that Sindh raised the issue of water availability in Kharif and demanded that water should not be stored at times of shortage and It further be made available first before storing it in dams in kharif season for crops. In addition, Sindh contended that water should be released from dams to meet needs of crops in Kharif season. Balochistan and KPK provinces are normally exempted from the water shortages.

Balochistan representative said during the meeting that both KPK and Balochistan should not face water shortage even in the event of lack of water availability in the Kharif season. The technical committee noted that Punjab and Sindh may face water shortages upcoming kharif season. It was earlier feared that country would face 40 to 50 percent water shortage in early Kharif season. However Irsa noted that the provinces may face below 35 percent water shortages in early Kharif which would gradually be reduced. Punjab and Sindh provinces would share water shortage whereas Balochistan and KPK would be exempted from any shortage of water.

The technical committee noted that 108 Million Acre Feet (MAF) to 113 MAF water would be available in rivers for crops in next Kharif season. It also observed that there would be 40 percent losses on Indus River in early Kharif which would gradually be reduced to 20 percent. Chenab and Jhelum Rivers would face 10 percent losses in early Kharif which would be reduced to zero percent in late Kharif. Official of Irsa said that water regulator had released 40,000 cusecs water each for Punjab and Sindh which would help ease shortages in a week .The regulator was releasing 3000 cusecs water for KPK.

In Pakistan, the kharif season starts from April and main crops are rice, maize (corn) Moong, cotton and sugarcane.

According to Irsa, water inflows in Indus River at Tarbela stood at 22300 cusecs and Outflows 20000 cusecs, Kabul at Nowshera 16300 cusecs inflows and Outflows 16300 cusecs, Jhelum at Mangla38100 cusecs inflows and outflows 31900 cusecs, Chenab at Marala 14900 cusecs inflows and Outflows 6500 cusecs.

The present water level in Tarbela was 1384.85 feet, Mangla 1068.45 feet and live storage 0.055 million acre feet (MAF and 0.175 MAF respectively. In Chashma, present level was 642.30 feet and live storage 0.186 MAF. The inflows and outflows of River Indus at Tarbela and Chashma, River Kabul at Nowshera and River Jhelum at Mangla have been reflected as mean flows of 24 hours, whereas the other flows have been gauged at 6.00am.