March 28, 2017 ( by The News International ）
Punjab, Sindh to share the shortage; KP, Balochistan to be unaffected; climate change major instrumental in water shortage; Indus River to face 40pc water losses in early Kharif
ISLAMABAD: The Indus River System Authority’s (Irsa) on Monday hinted at the possibility of water shortage of more than one-third in early Kharif season starting from April 1, sending a worrisome signal to the country’s Agriculture sector, already under stress and growing in negative zone.
This internal water distribution authority [Irsa] that regulating and monitoring distribution of water sources of Indus River among all four federating units held its technical committee meeting also said that due to shortage of water availability, Punjab and Sindh (Country’s major agriculture crops producing provinces) could face a sizeable cut in their share of water; official sources told The News Monday.
In Pakistan, Kharif cropping season starts from April 1 and ends on September 31 and its main crops includes Sugarcane, cotton, maize and Rice.
The technical committee of Irsa that met here with its Director Operations Khalid Rana in the Chair to discuss the water availability for Kharif season and other relevant issues finalized the recommendations for the upcoming Irsa advisory committee to be held on March 31. Representatives from the all four provinces, WAPDA and other relevant departments’ officials participated in the meeting. It was forecasted that the Kharif season could face 35 percent shortage of water, however with the passage of time the volume of shortage will decline. Punjab and Sindh provinces would share water shortage whereas Balochistan and KPK would be exempted from any shortage of water.
The committee noted that in next Kharif season, water availability will be of around 113 million acre feet. Interestingly, main irrigation water sources including Indus River could face 40 percent water losses in early Kharif which would gradually get reduced to 20pc; Chenab and Jhelum Rivers would face 10 per cent losses in early Kharif which would reduce to zero percent in late Kharif.
Irsa Spokesman Khalid Rana who presided over the meeting told The News, “Climate change was one of the instrumentals affecting Pakistan and its water availability for irrigation in rivers. The country has been facing the severe impact of climate change for the last eight to 10 years.”
He said that normally, at the end of Rabi [March] water availability in dams is always at the lowest and so in first two months [April-May] of Kharif, the we face shortage and then it vanishes with the passage of time and melting of snow.
“Climate change being a major challenge, we should need to be prepared for vulnerable situation, as there is always a long spans of dry weather. To cope with the harsh climate impact on Pakistan and food security, our planners should work on watershed management and make big water reservoirs,” Rana said.
It is worth mentioning that IRSA determines twice a year the water availability to provinces for Rabi and Kharif seasons under the Water Apportionment Accord agreed among provinces in 1991. In Pakistan, Kharif cropping season starts from April 1 and ends on September 31 and its crops includes Sugarcane, cotton, maize and Rice, while Rabi season starts on October 1 and ends on March 31 that have major crops of wheat and barley etc.