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Irsa foresees no water shortage during Kharif season; fixes provinces’ shares

Irsa foresees no water shortage during Kharif season; fixes provinces’ shares

ISLAMABAD: The country is likely to witness one of the best water availability this Kharif season in more than a decade, leading to enough power generation, bumper crops and surplus water flows into the sea for environmental protection.

According to estimates finalised by the advisory committee of the Indus River System Authority (Irsa) on Thursday, there would be zero water shortage during Kharif that begins today (April 1).

Presided over by Irsa chairman and member Punjab, Rao Irshad Ali Khan, the committee meeting concluded that anticipated water availability for distribution among the four provinces for irrigation would remain at 74.04 million acre feet (MAF) throughout the season. “This is significantly higher than last year’s 65.47MAF, the best in 10 years and better than 10-year average of 64MAF,” said an authority official.

Not only this, he said, the just concluded Rabi season also had surplus water and the four provinces utilised only 31MAF from an overall availability of about 34.39MAF, as they benefited from timely rains for irrigation.

The meeting noted that water availability for Rabi at the rim stations was anticipated at 24.32MAF and actual flows at the rim stations were recorded at 24.04MAF. Total water availability after including carryover reserves stood at 34.39MAF. As a result, there was a carryover of 3.5MAF water in all reservoirs on March 31.

As a consequence, total water availability for Kharif was estimated at 112.86MAF. “We are anticipating very wet cycle for Kharif”, the official said. Conveyance losses were estimated at 20 and 15 per cent, respectively, for early and late Kharif, in the Indus zone. Ten per cent loss was anticipated in the Jhelum zone in early Kharif. Thus total losses were put at 14.8MAF.

The meeting decided to carry forward 8.1MAF storage in dams to next Rabi season, leaving 90MAF for distribution. Of this about 15MAF was earmarked for “escapage” downstream Kotri for environmental purposes.

Distribution among provinces

The Irsa committee decided with consensus to distribute the remaining 74.04MAF among the provinces under para-2 of the 1991 Water Apportionment Accord.

Punjab was allocated 37.07MAF (against 32.53MAF of last year and 33.59MAF of 10-year average).

The meeting decided to allocate 33.94MAF to Sindh which is significantly higher than its last year’s share for Kharif (30.55MAF) and 10-year average of 27.68MAF.

Balochistan was allotted 2.56MAF against its last year’s share of 1.62MAF and 10-year average of 1.78MAF. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will get 0.82 MAF against its 0.76MAF and 0.94MAF share in last Kharif and 10-year average season, respectively.

Sindh’s representative Mohammad Rafiq told the meeting that his province had no problem with water allocations made by Irsa but demanded an undertaking that Chashma-Jhelum Link Canal should not be opened in case of unexpected water shortage in July-August.

Irsa spokesman Khalid Idrees Rana said that no link canal, including Chashma-Jhelum, would be opened during Kharif, except for Taunsa-Punjnad Link Canal which would be opened for a few days during repair works of Tarimmu Barrage by the Punjab government.

He said that the Water and Power Development Authority also desired that maximum conservation level at Tarbela should not be allowed to go beyond 1,490 feet, instead of usual 1,550-feet until July 15 for completion of Tarbela-IV Extension project. Irsa accepted the request but made it clear that no extension would be allowed beyond the deadline.

Published in Dawn, April 1st, 2016

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