The Punjab government called upon the federal government to give preference to sowing, growing and maturing the strategic Rabi 2012-13 season crops including staple food wheat in the use of available water in the dams rather than generation of hydro-power during the winter period, Punjab Irrigation officials told Business Recorder.
They said the federal government called a meeting of provincial irrigation canal regulators in Islamabad to formulate a strategy for release of water from the two major dams, Tarbela and Mangla, during the annual closure of irrigation canals for de-silting purpose in the months of December/January which curtails hydro-power generation.
They said since there is already 17 percent water shortage for the 2012-13 Rabi crops that are backbone of agriculture sector, therefore, water in the dams should be released in light of the water needs of Rabi crops wheat, grams, mustards, canola, sunflower, vegetables, fodder, etc, rather than power generation in the country.
They said only 7 MAF water is left in the Tarbela and Mangla dams (Tarbela 4 MAF and Mangla 3 MAF), whereas daily run of the water in the four live rivers has come down to 50,000 cusecs, (Indus 27,300 cusecs, Kabul 8,600 cusecs, Jhelum 8,600 cusecs and Chenab 6,900 cusecs).
They further said that the Indus River System Authority is releasing about 100,000 cusecs water downstream the Tarbela and Mangla dams along with run of the river water of Chenab and Kabul for sowing Rabi crops over maximum acreage across the country.
Talking to this scribe convenor Punjab Water Council Farooque Bajwa said that the current schedule of the annual closure of irrigation canals for de-silting purpose is not in accordance with the present crop pattern of wheat rather it retards the yield of the crops.
He suggested that the closure period should be based on the climate and crop pattern that is from 15th December to 10th January as the natural dew at night- fall on the crops in the plains during this period substituted all other water requirements. The opening of canals after 10th January will enhance the yield to the tune of 15 percent without any additional expenses.
He further stressed that right from 15th December to 10th of January outlet of water from Mangla and Tarbela should be withheld since these dams were built exclusively for irrigation purposes. Consequently, there would be enough water available in the dams from the crops till their maturity.