Pakistan Agriculture News, Water

Irsa rejects Sindh MPs’ request to close flood canals

ISLAMABAD – Senators from Sindh have demanded the closures of flood canals, stop filling of Mangla and provision of additional water to the province to meet the demand for Kharif crop.

However Indus River System Authority (IRSA) has excused to the demand of the senators saying that they cannot do it unless requested by the province of Punjab as there shortage is higher than Sindh.

The issue of Sindh water shortage was raised in the meeting of the Senate Special Committee on Water Scarcity which met here with Senator Moula Bakhsh Chandio in the chair.

The senators from Sindh protested over transfer of water from Indus zone through Chashma-Jhelum and Taunsa-Punjnad link canals. The members of the committee also demand halting of filling of Mangla Dam.

Senator Moula Bakhsh said that there is acute water shortage for Kharif season and if the problem was not resolved on urgent basis it would cause irreparable loss of sugarcane, cotton and chili crops.

He said that parliamentarians are under severe public pressure. He said that to avoid drought in the province the federal government should provide immediate relief of water.

Senator Muzafar Hussain Shah said the shortage of water has damaged the Kharif crops in the province. He said when there was shortage then why water were transferred from Indus through Chashma-Jhelum and Taunsa-Punjnad link canals.

Senator Muzafar Hussain Shah said that there was no reason for opposition by Sindh and other provinces over Kalabagh Dam. The non-execution of agreements, water accord and understandings on water issues had led to confrontational politics on the dam.  He said that Kalabagh Dam became controversial because two canals were made part of its design while consensus was achieved on Diamer-Bhasha Dam because it did not contain any canal.

Moula Bakhsh said that no province had any issue with any water project or energy sector agreement until it is breached.

The senators called immediate closure of two flood canals and halt of Mangla Dam filling for at least two to three weeks which will enable the farmers at tail end to complete sowing.

They said the two canals were flood canals and could only be operated in case of surplus water but not in any case for shifting of scarce Indus waters into Jhelum-Chenab.

Irsa Chairman Ahmed Kamal said total water discharges in Indus system currently stood at 64,000 cusec, including 40,000 cusec from Tarbela Dam and 24,000 cusec from Chashma barrage.Of this 64,000 cusec, 45,000 cusec was going to Sindh compared to 15,000 cusec to the Punjab while remaining flows were going to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.

Kamal said the senators should take up the matter with Punjab government for some adjustment to facilitate sowing in Sindh. He said Irsa was bound to give water to all provinces including to Punjab as per their requirements and could not cut down on Punjab’s share. He said the Irsa was required to achieve upto 70-75 percent filling of Mangla Dam by end-June to meet watering requirements in late Kharif. He said so far 38 percent shortage had been applied to Punjab and 37 percent to Sindh.

Senator Sabir Shah said the water shortage was a serious problem at present in Sindh and should be given relief to avoid crop losses to farmers.  He said the committee should also focus on construction of new water reservoirs and proposing a way forward to counter blockade of river flows by India.

Fawad  Yosufzai, The Nation