The Punjab Water Council (PWC) has strongly opposed any water releases downstream the Kotri Barrage into the Indus Delta before filling Mangla and Tarbela dams, which are the replacement for three rivers Ravi, Sutlej and Beas given to India under the Indus Basin Treaty 1960.
It may be added that Sindh Irrigation department has been releasing about 8,000 cusecs water downstream the Kotri barrage on river Indus after filling its irrigation canals off-taking from the barrage since Sunday. Talking to Business Recorder here on Monday, PWC President Hamid Malhi said that Mangla dam was still 2.2 MAF lower than the last year as only 1.66 MAF water has been stored in the reservoir till July 16, though it has even lost the prime period of its filling criteria. “While the two dams Tarbela and Mangla still remain 100ft below their filling levels, this is no time for allowing downstream Kotri flows and filling of Mangla dam should be priority number one and then comes Tarbela filling which still has the monsoon season till early September,” he added.
IRSA needs to exercise restraint instead of heeding to political rhetoric if any uncontrollable flows emerge in the system these could be sent for downstream Kotri after flowing through the 1000 mile dry bed stretch of the Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi and Sutlej rivers. IRSA mismanages water by releasing it downstream Kotri for many canals in the Punjab area running below capacity, some area even running on rotation, he added. The surge in water availability at the rim stations during the last fortnight could have added to reservoir rapacity rather than being wasted to the sea, Malhi maintained. The PWC president pointed out that there is no allocation of water for downstream Kotri flows as per the so called 1991 Water apportionment Accord among the provinces, what it mention in Para 7, is needed further studies. He said the studies were reviewed by three independent international experts who approved certain flows but subject to the construction of new storages, recognizing the fact that existing uses for irrigation purposes can not be compromised for the sake of downstream Kotri flows.
Even under Para 2, there is no allocation for downstream Kotri flows, nor in any of the other related documents of the Accord. Once Kalabagh dam had become operational in seven years time ie by 1998, as envisaged by Para 6 of the Water Accord the increase in storage capacity might have been able to cater for some flood flows which could have been given for Kotri downstream and that too only from Sindh’s water share, he elaborated.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2012