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Low temperature in Skardu hits river flows




  • skarduISLAMABAD, July 11, 2011: With water storage touching alarming levels, Punjab and Sindh are likely to pay compensation to Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for higher water intake and trade their entitlements to meet each other’s needs.

    This is part of recommendations prepared……..

    skarduISLAMABAD, July 11, 2011: With water storage touching alarming levels, Punjab and Sindh are likely to pay compensation to Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for higher water intake and trade their entitlements to meet each other’s needs.

    This is part of recommendations prepared by the Water Sector Taskforce set up by international lending agencies under the aegis of the Friends of Democratic Pakistan (FoDP). The taskforce met here last week to prepare a way forward for better water management and an efficient irrigation system.

     

    The proposals have come at a time the Indus River System Authority (Irsa) has declined meeting provincial indents over the weekend owing to a sharp fall in temperatures in Skardu — a major source of Indus river flows.

    Instead the water regulator has started releasing water to provinces in accordance with pre-approved shares, and not on need or demand basis.

    According to sources, Irsa cut Sindh’s indent by 11,000 cusec per day to 169,000 cusec, calculated on the basis of its share.

    Punjab’s indent was cut by 5,000 cusec to 113,000 as temperatures in Skardu dropped from 32 degree Celsius to 23 after the recent spell of rain.

    According to sources, the authorities were monitoring the situation in the Indus because the water storage in Tarbela should have been 2.5 million acre feet (MAF), but had fallen to 1.5MAF — a level where water availability becomes risky.

    “We want to avoid a 2004-like situation when Tarbela storage fell to 1.2MAF and resulted in a serious crisis,” an official said.

    The provinces have been warned about a further water cut if temperatures do not rise and Punjab has been advised to increase its withdrawals from Mangla over the next few days because a further dip in Tarbela storage would not be affordable for any province.

    Meanwhile, Punjab’s intake of 12,000 cusec has been reduced to about 8,000 cusec.

    The sources said the participants of the taskforce were generally appreciative of the 1991 water accord, saying it had worked well in providing provinces their water shares despite minor procedural difficulties and political controversies and hence its implementation needed to be improved through institutional strengthening and the use of latest gadgetry.

    Officials said Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were currently unable to utilise their full water share allocated by Irsa under the accord due to infrastructure constraints. As a result, Punjab and Sindh utilise the share of smaller provinces.

    The proposal from the taskforce is that larger provinces should consider ways of compensating water shares of smaller provinces.

    Likewise, the provinces will work out a mechanism within the Irsa apportionment to swap their shares at times of need and compensate subsequently.

    It was agreed that experience of Irsa would be “compared and contrasted with the way in which inter-provincial waters are managed in other federal countries like Australia, Brazil and the United States”.

    The taskforce will now work closely with Irsa to explore if the de facto operating rule can be translated into a de jure rule and to work out modalities for development of a single, technical and modern system for estimating water availability during 
    every season. The consultations will also revolve around independent measurement of flows to avoid accusations of water theft on an institutional level.

    As a next step, a water conference will be held in Lahore on July 20 where different concepts relating to utilisation of water resources outside the Indus basin will be discussed with a special focus on Punjab.

    The irrigation ministers and secretaries of other provinces will attend the conference as special observers.

    The Punjab authorities and experts from lending agencies, including the two recently inducted senior advisers on water — Shamsul Mulk and Dr Donald Blackmore from Australia — will attend the event.

    Some ideas that have come up include management of hill torrents and optimisation of their potential for productive irrigated agriculture and development of other sources outside the Indus basin command, like arid areas in Balochistan and other regions.

    By Khaleeq Kiani

    Courtesy : Dawn Newspaper

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