The country’s two main dams Tarbela and Mangla might not be filled to their maximum water storage level due to Punjab and Sindh’s refusal to cut down water demands and 43 percent below normal rains during 2012 monsoon, Irsa officials said.
They said that there is almost 3 MAF less storage of water in the two dams as of 12th August 2012 against last year’s storage of 9.2 MAF water. So far only 3.662 MAF water has been stored in Tarbela dam on river Indus and 2.549 MAF in Mangla dam on river Jhelum.
They said Irsa has been impressing upon provinces to reduce their water demands and economically use the available water for sowing and growing the current Kharif crops including cotton, sugarcane, rice, maize, fodder and vegetables so that more water could be retained in the reservoirs for sowing of winter crops but Punjab and Sindh, the 90 percent users of the rivers water remained adamant with the result that the dams are almost 50 percent empty though the monsoon season is almost half way through.
They said the monsoon rains have been 43 percent below normal in the upper regions and about 90 percent in the lower parts of the country till now.
Punjab canal irrigation regulator and consultant M H Siddiqui told Business Recorder that in view of the below normal rains and sluggish melting of snows on the mountains, the maximum water level in Mangla dam is expected to 1182 ft against its raised level of 1242 ft. He said the authorities were aiming to store about 7 MAF this year after additional conservation capacity of 2.88 MAF. However, he apprehended that the dam would remain nearly 50 percent empty as prime period of its filling is now over.
Similarly, the water experts said that keeping in view the current water flow in mighty Indus and future rainfall predictions, Tarbela dam might not be filled beyond 1,510 – 1520 feet against its capacity of 1550 ft above sea level. The present level of the dam is 1594.7 ft but Irsa is releasing all the run of the river water to meet water demands of province.
They said with the raising of Mangla dam from 1202 Ft to 1242 ft at the cost of over Rs 100 billion, the Water and Power Development Authority Wapda has increased the water storage capacity from 11.3 MAF to 13.7 MAF. However, the current drought conditions would not allow storage of more than 8 MAF water, causing a shortage of nearly 40 percent.
Agronomists said the shortage of water in the dams would lead to worst hydel power generation crisis and sowing of winter crops including wheat, lentils, grams, oil seeds etc.
President Pakistan Agri-Forum Ibrahim Mughal said that last year 11.3 MAF water was available in three reservoirs Tarbela, Mangla and Chashma for sowing of winter crops from 1st October 2011. However there would be shortage of nearly 3 MAF water for sowing the winter crops including staple food wheat.
He said with such a low availability of water, the farmers will have difficulty in growing their crops leading to a potential food shortage. The power crisis will also worsen leading to an increase in the hours of load shedding throughout the country.
40 percent less monsoon rains:
Talking to this scribe on Sunday evening Director General Meteorological department Dr. Arif Mahmood said |”though the Met office had predicted 15 percent above normal monsoon rains this year, the sudden propping up of el niño phenomenon has caused drought like conditions in south Asia (Pakistan and India) causing 20 percent less than normal rains in the upper parts of the country and 40 percent below normal rainfall in south Punjab and Sindh province.
Seasonal low lies over Balochistan with its trough extending eastwards. Monsoon currents are penetrating in upper parts of the country.
Yesterday’s monsoon low over Northwest Madhya Pradesh moved Westwards and today lies over Southeast Rajasthan (India).
Marked Seasonal Low lies over Northwest Balochistan. Yesterday’s shallow westerly wave over north of Pakistan today lies over North of Kashmir Moist current from Arabian Sea is penetrating upper parts of the country upto 4000 feet.
Forecast for today (Monday)
Mainly Hot and humid weather is expected in most parts of the country however isolated rain/thundershower likely in Gujranwala, Lahore, Bahawalpur divisions, Kashmir and GB.
Weather next 48 hours:
Mainly Hot and humid weather is expected in most parts of the country however isolated rain/thundershower likely in north-east Punjab, Kashmir and GB.
Weather past 24 hours:
— Mainly weather remained hot and humid in most parts of the country however isolated rain/thundershower occurred in Peshawar, Gujranwala, Lahore divisions and Gilgit-Baltistan.
— Rainfall (MM) recorded at 1700 PST during last 24 hours:
— Rainfall recorded in (MM) during past 24 hrs
— Mangla-40,Kotli-26,Garhi Dopatta-23,Palandri & Hattian Bala-18(each),Sehrkakota-13, Parachinar-12, Rawalakot-10,Muzaffarabad-06,Lahore [Misri Shah-06,Airport-04,City-01,Shahi Qilla, Shahdara & Upper Mall-Trace (each)] ,Mandibahauddin-04,Domel, Chattarkallas,Kakul,Jhelum &Gujranwala -03(each), Okara-02, Baba Shah Jalal & Bahawalnagar-01(each), Astore, Hunza,Balakot,Barkhan,D.I.Khan, Gilgit,Islamabad(Airport), Rohri and Skardu-Trace(each).