Pakistan Agriculture News

Provinces likely to face 14pc water shortage in early Kharif season

ISLAMABAD – The provinces are likely to face 14 percent water shortage in early Kharif season and 6 percent shortfall in late Kharif season.

Indus River System Authority (IRSA) advisory committee Tuesday anticipated that during early Kharif season (April 1st to June 10) the water shortage forecast is 14 percent which will decrease to 6 percent during late Kharif season (June to September 30) .

Irsa advisory committee meeting was held under the chairmanship of Chairman Sher Zaman Khan to discuss and approve the anticipated water availability criteria for ensuing Kharif season 2019 (April 1 – September 30) and other related agenda items, said spokesman IRSA, Khalid Rana, here.

The meeting was attended by all Irsa members, chief engineering adviser, representatives of members of water and power of Wapda and representatives of agriculture and irrigation secretaries of the provinces.

The Water Accord 1991 empowered IRSA to determine water availability in the country and provincial share twice a year, once for Kharif season and the other for Rabi season. Rabi season starts from October 1st while Kharif starts from April 1st. Since Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were exempted from cuts in the share, the shortage in water would be distributed between Sindh and the Punjab.

The advisory committee also turned down WAPDA request of maintaining Tarbela level below 1430 feet during Kharif.  According to the spokesman IRSA, General Manager Tarbela requested the Advisory committee for maintaining the Tarbela level below 1430 feet up to July 15, 2019 to cater for the operational constraint of tunnel-3, currently under repair. IRSA and provinces were of the view that it would not be advisable to maintain Tarbela at lower levels or else it may endanger the filling of the dam during current Kharif 2019. However, it was decided that in order to further consider Wapda’s constraint, the situation would be reviewed by Irsa keeping view the prevalent flows in a meeting to be held in the first week of May 2019.

The committee discussed thread barely the anticipated water availability for Kharif 2019, the spokesman said. The committee observed that better water situation had been foreseen for the current season compared to previous one due to better hydro-meteorological scenario.

Based on the forecast hydrological parameters, the committee anticipated a shortfall of 14 percent in early Kharif and 6 percent shortfall in late Kharif season. As per the forecast for Kharif, Punjab is expected to receive anticipated water quantity of 33.11MAF during the Kharif compared to 29.19MAF of last year.

Sindh is anticipated to get 30.17MAF compared to 27.75MAF of same period last year. KPK (below) would get about 820,000 acre feet compared to 990,000 acre feet of same period last year. While Balochistan is expected to receive 2.81MAF compared to 1.69MAF of last year.

IRSA’s advisor committee also turned down Sindh request for water distribution as per para-2 of the water sharing accord. Sindh representative advocated sharing as per para-2 of the water apportionment accord 1991, while Punjab held the view that the present 3-tier arrangements by Irsa were very much within the ambit of the accord.

Irsa said that the issue was pending with the offices of the Attorney General for Pakistan for recommendation. The outcome was awaited which was ultimately to be discussed and decided by Council of Common Interests (CCI) till then the existing arrangements would remain in vogue.

There were also at length discussions about the expected conveyance losses in the system. Sindh advised 35 percent and Punjab advised 25 percent losses in Indus Zone, however, the advisory committee approved 35 percent losses. It was agreed by all that Irsa team along with M/S International Sedimentation & Research Institute (ISRIP) of Wapda, a subsidiary of Wapda for actual discharge calculations, would make surprise visits of different barrages and would measure the actual flows in the system.

It was decided that the XENs found reporting incorrect discharges by Irsa teams would be recommended for strict action.