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Water Shortage in Early Kharif Season




  • The projection comes as water in Mangla and Tarbela reservoirs stands at the dead level.
    “Owing to shortage of water,the Indus River System Authority (Irsa) has asked provinces to delay cropplantations by April 15 when snow will start melting on glaciers, leadingto increased water flow into rivers,” a senior Irsa official told TheExpress Tribune.
    According to the MeteorologicalDepartment, snow will start melting from April 15 and temperature willbe higher by 1% to 3% compared to average temperature at the same timein the last three to four years. “If that happens, water shortage willbe just 5% in the whole Kharif season,” the official said.
    However, he said, the technicalcommittee of Irsa, which met here on Monday, failed to make an assessmentof water availability in the entire Kharif season. It will meet again onJune 10 to estimate water releases for the remaining season.
    Totake a decision on water distribution among provinces, Irsa’s advisorycommittee will meet on March 30. Punjab and Sindh will share the watershortage while Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa will enjoy exemption.
    According to initial estimates,Punjab will receive nine million acre feet (MAF) of water, Sindh 5.6 MAF,Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 0.28 MAF and Balochistan 0.4 MAF in the early part ofKharif from April 1 to June 10.
    Earlier, the technical committeemet on March 16 but could not come up with an estimate of water availabilitydue to uncertain river flows. However, it believed that in the early partof the season, Sindh and Punjab may face a water shortage of 15% to 25%.
    “The same situation persistsand therefore no final assessment of water supply for the Kharif seasoncould be made,” the official said, adding the situation would be clearon April 15 with the melting of snow.
    Glaciers usually start meltingin March every year and provide enough water for upcoming crops, but therecent cold wave lasting halfway through March has prevented this naturalphenomenon from happening.
    Growers of Sindh and Punjabfear that crops will suffer a setback at the start of the Kharif seasonbecause of water shortage. Cotton, sugarcane and rice are the major crops.Of these, cotton may be affected the most as a delay in cultivation willresult in pest attacks.
    An Irsa member said thistime glaciers had a record volume of snow and enough water would be availablewith the change in weather. “This is for the first time that the countryis facing a cold wave even in March,” he said.
    According to an officialstatement, water level in Tarbela and Mangla reservoirs stood at the deadlevel at 1,378 feet and 1,040 feet respectively. Water flow into Tarbelawas 24,000 cusecs against outflow of 23,300 cusecs. In Mangla, the inflowwas 25,500 cusecs against outflow of 26,400 cusecs.
    Water flow into Kabul Riverat Nowshera was 15,000 cusecs, in Indus River at Chashma 25,700 cusecsand in Chenab River at Maral 15,400 cusecs.
    Published in The ExpressTribune, March 27th, 2012.

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