ISLAMABAD – Punjab has violated the withdrawal plan and utilised the Sindh water released from Mangla by IRSA to meet the lower riparian area demand.
IRSA has adjusted Mangla outflow to 70,000 cusecs, in conjunction with Chenab flows, out of which about 80% water was utilised by Punjab in violation of its withdrawal plan, official sources told The Nation here. Sources said that IRSA in a letter written to the Director, Indus Water Treaty and Regulation Irrigation Department, Govt of the Punjab has raised the issue to cooperate and stick to the water withdrawal plan.
From April 1 to mid-May, heavy flows were witnessed in unregulated Kabul & Chenab rivers and maximum possible efforts were made to make integrated/efficient use of these flows by in turn reducing outflows as much as possible from Tarbela & Mangla reservoirs.
Rejecting the claim that Punjab and Sindh faced 21% and 8% shortage during first 50 days of the Kharif season IRSA said that because of better river flows, IRSA distributed waters almost with respect to Para 2 of the Water Accord 1991 amongst the stakeholders which is as per spirit of the 3-tier formula currently in vogue.
The Water Account statement prepared by IRSA in comparison to Para 2 of the Accord which clearly shows that during the period April 1to May 20, 2019 Punjab & Sindh provinces faced a shortfall of 23% & 22% respectively with a variation of only 1%. Therefore, making a reference to shortfall of 21% & 8% faced by Punjab & Sindh respectively is not the representative comparison.
Regarding filling of Mangla Dam, IRSA clarified that the Regulator knows the hydrology of Jhelum-Chenab and Indus-Kabul rivers, however, it would never be a priority of IRSA to fill the reservoirs by passing down heavy shortfall to stakeholders. Keeping in view the receding inflows in Indus & Kabul rivers, IRSA decided to release water from Mangla over & above Punjab indent to the tune of 20,000 cusecs for Sindh province as per spirit of integrated use of the reservoirs.
Soon as improvement of flows would be seen on Indus Main Stem, IRSA will provide support to Indus Tributary Zone of Punjab by releasing water from Link Channels remaining within the Punjab Share and would endeavor to fill Mangla to its maximum capacity. IRSA is optimistic that both the reservoirs would be filled to their maximum capacity.
According the water regulatory body, IRSA adjusted Mangla outflow to 70,000 cusecs in conjunction with Chenab flows out of which about 80% water was utilized by Punjab even in violation of its withdrawal plan. IRSA has asked Punjab that “once again owing to low flows in Indus zone IRSA has increased outflows from Mangla to 65,000 cusecs and it is requested that Punjab withdrawals may be restricted so that about 13,000 cusecs to 18,000 cusecs of water could be ensured as escapage below Panjnad for lower riparians.
IRSA assures that all regulations are being made by adopting best management techniques & policies envisaged in the Water Accord without encroachment of legitimate share of any stakeholder(s) and hopes that Punjab will also cooperate in this regard.