HYDERABAD: Sindh is getting 50pc less water than what it received during the corresponding period last year at Guddu barrage upstream, the first barrage on Indus after the river enters the province, dealing a serious blow to cultivation of Kharif season crops of rice and cotton.
All right bank non-perennial canals of three barrages are now to getting water for crops but due to acute water scarcity, irrigation authorities could release water into the canals only for drinking purposes.
Non-perennial canals of Guddu and Sukkur barrages were to be provided water for Kharif from May 15 but given available flows, irrigation authorities would only provide water to Sukkur barrage’s right bank canals of North Western, Dadu and Rice canals and Guddu’s Begari Feeder.
As per Water Apportionment Accord 1991 Guddu barrage is having 67pc less water, Sukkur 42pc and Kotri 66pc less.
Acute water shortage deals serious blow to cultivation of Kharif crops
Sukkur barrage’s left bank canals of Nara and Rohri are getting somewhat better water flows and Kotri barrage’s Kalri Baghar (KB) feeder is receiving reasonable flows for meeting Karachi’s water needs. KB feeder feeds Keenjhar lake from where Karachi gets water.
On May 18 last year Guddu barrage received 72,286 cusecs against 38,620 cusecs the same day this year. Canals’ withdrawal figures of Guddu barrage show it is getting 67pc less water than its allocated share and likewise Sukkur barrage is getting 49.8pc less water as compared to its allocation for May.
“Last year in May the situation was much better. And this trend of shortage this year is likely to continue over the days to come,” said an irrigation official.
Kotri barrage is the most affected as it bears 66pc water shortage in its four canals, three on left and one on right side, currently.
“We are mainly releasing water for drinking purposes in four canals of Kotri barrage,” said newly appointed Kotri barrage chief engineer Shafqat Wadhu.
He said that level of Keenjhar lake whose designed discharge was 9,000 cusecs had improved over the last few days and now it was being provided around 2,100 cusecs to meet drinking water needs.
Share of non-perennial canals of Guddu and Sukkur barrages gets due on May 15. Begari Feeder is still closed. However, its left bank canal — Ghotki Feeder — which is to get 6,000 cusecs, is being provided 2,000 cusecs only.
Similarly, Sukkur barrage’s right bank canals — North Western, Rice and Dadu — are getting 1400 cusecs, 400 cusecs and 1150 cusecs against allocation of 6000, 4000 and 5000 cusecs, respectively.
“Indus River System Authority’s advisory committee had earlier predicted 31pc shortage in Kharif but it was revised to 42pc. We believe that we will be having 50pc shortage of water at the end of the day in view of present water flows,” said an irrigation official.
The persistent water shortage has badly affected cotton sowing in Sindh as only 22 per cent area has been brought under cultivation so far against a target of 620,000 hectares. Last year’s cotton sowing target was 650,000 hectares.
Sindh Chamber of Agriculture general secretary Zahid Bhurgari claimed that only 35pc cotton was sown in lower Sindh areas and that too with the help of tube-wells.
Published in Dawn, May 21st, 2018