Local News

ISLAMABAD: Despite a 10 per cent shortage in early part, the country’s water availability during the current kharif season has been estimated to be higher than last year and 10-year average. The overall (basin-wise) “shortage was approved as 10pc for early kharif and 4pc for late kharif 2021,” said Indus River System Authority (Irsa) after a meeting of its advisory committee presided over by Irsa Chairman and Member Punjab Rao Irshad Ali Khan. Therefore, the participants agreed that “the likely projected shortages were manageable and hopefully the cropping targets for early and late kharif would be achieved by utilising efficient and best water management and water application practices,” Irsa said. The meeting anticipated total inflows at the rim station at 108.75 million acre feet (MAF) during current kharif, against 100.74MAF of same season last year and last 10-year average of 105MAF. As such, the current season’s anticipated inflows were about 8pc higher than previous year and about 3.5pc higher than last 10-year average. Based on these agreed rim station inflows, total water availability for distribution among the provinces was estimated at 68.68MAF after adjusting against storage requirements of 10.495MAF, expected system losses of 15.15MAF and unavoidable escapage during flood season of 14.423 MAF downstream Kotri. The allocations for provincial canal withdrawal had amounted to 65MAF last year kharif that was almost the same over the last year average. “Likely provincial withdrawals at canal heads this year at 68.68MAF are 5.5pc higher than last year withdrawals of 65.11MAF and 5.7pc higher than last 10-year average of 64.97MAF. Therefore, Irsa allocated 34.112MAF share to Punjab for kharif under para-14 of the 1991 water apportionment accord. Sindh would get 30.893MAF while Balochistan would get 2.848MAF and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 0.823MAF. Irsa rejected a demand of the Sindh government seeking distribution of water shares under para-2 of the accord. However, Sindh was told that the issue was pending with Council of Common Interests (CCI). Therefore, the water distribution shall be made as per practice in vogue, which is very much within the parameters of Water Accord 1991. The advisory committee also discussed the recommendations of its technical committee on water situation. After discussions and input from all stakeholders, losses of 30pc were approved for Indus Zone in early kharif (up to June 10) and 15pc during late kharif. It also approved 10pc losses for Jehlum-Chenab Zone in early kharif and zero for late kharif on the recommendations of Wapda. Member Irsa Sindh and Balochistan insisted to adopt losses of 35pc on Indus during early kharif period. However, to resolve the long-standing issue of system losses, a joint committee comprising Irsa members Punjab and Sindh, respective representatives of provincial irrigation departments and Chief Engineering Adviser would undertake flow measurements at required locations and recommend the actual losses based on those observations. The provinces were asked to submit their withdrawal plans within 15 days to Irsa while remaining within the allocated shares. The advisory committee also approved maintenance of Tarbela reservoir levels at 1,417 feet till June 10, 2021 to facilitate ongoing construction works at T3&T4 Hydropower as requested by Wapda. However, any unexpected surge in river inflows and sediment delta movements in the reservoir due to limited outflows capacity and sustenance of the required levels, respectively, shall be the responsibility of Tarbela dam authorities. Wapda was directed to make efforts to complete the works by first of June to avoid any eventuality. The meeting also reviewed rabi 2020-21 system operation and noted that the actual rim-station inflows of 21.14MAF remained 10pc less than forecast volume of 23.44 MAF. Despite reduction in inflows, the advisory committee expressed satisfaction that the actual provincial withdrawals remained at 31.21 MAF, ie, 15pc short and a little less than anticipated shortfall of 10pc, due to less than expected system losses of only 0.57 MAF as compared to anticipation of 2.35MAF. The provinces received indented supplies. Downstream Kotri releases remained 0.556 MAF.