Rabi water share cut by 18pc for Punjab ISLAMABAD: The Indus River System Authority (Irsa) on Friday estimated 18 per cent water shortage in Rabi cropping season and proportionately cut the shares of Punjab and Sindh.
A meeting of the water regulator’s advisory committee led by its chairman Rao Irshad Ali Khan noted that major shortfall had emerged because of climatic changes and a three per cent due to resistance by the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) to follow dam filling criteria during just concluded Kharif.
The meeting which was also attended by Irsa members and representatives of all the provinces and agencies concerned decided to allocate 18pc lower quantities of water to Sindh and Punjab.
As a result, total water availability was estimated at 30 million acre feet (MAF) at canal rim stations, after accounting for system losses. The river flows during the season were estimated to come up with 29.38MAF of water resource while nine MAF was being carried forward in dams.
The meeting finalised water shares for the provinces. Punjab’s share was worked out at 16.16MAF against last year’s16.87 MAF. It was even lower than 10-year average of 16.31MAF.
Likewise, the share of Sindh was put at 12.20MAF compared with last year’s share of 14.57MAF and 10-year average of 12.64MAF.
The provinces of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa would be relatively better placed. During Rabi 2016-17, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa would get 0.70MAF against last year’s 0.48MAF and 10-year average of 0.54MAF. Likewise, Balochistan’s share was worked out at 1.02MAF compared with last year’s 0.98MAF and 10-year average of 0.86MAF.
The meeting was informed that total water availability for just concluded Kharif season was estimated at 107.78MAF, but actual availability stood at 101.99MAF with a shortfall of 5pc. This was because of 6pc higher than anticipated flows in river Indus and higher than estimated flows in Jhelum, Kabul and Chenab by 27pc, 7pc and 9pc respectively.
The meeting was also informed that Punjab faced 2pc water shortage in Kharif while Sindh suffered a higher shortage of 5pc. Balochistan was the worst victim which received 26pc lesser water share.
The meeting rejected a request by Wapda to keep Tarbela dam’s maximum conservation level at 1,483 feet against its maximum permissible limit of 1,550 feet from Nov 1, 2016 to July 15, 2017 to facilitate completion of Tarbela 4th extension.
The regulator observed that water level until March 2017 would remain lower than 1,483 feet in case. It would, however, be considered for a fresh decision when the Kharif’s dam filling criteria would come under discussion at the end of Rabi to see whether or not storage should be kept on the lower side.
Rabi season begins in October-December and harvested in April to May. Its major crops include wheat, gram, lentil, tobacco, rapeseed, barley and mustard.