Water shortage intensifies, crops at risk

Updated 03 Jul 2018


Villagers walk on a dried up canal near Badin, fed by the Kotri Barrage. Water flows have dried up, devastating the Kharif planting season.
Villagers walk on a dried up canal near Badin, fed by the Kotri Barrage. Water flows have dried up, devastating the Kharif planting season.

ISLAMABAD: The country’s water shortage has worsened, prompting Indus River System Authority (Irsa) to cut provincial water shares by 14 per cent as storages at the two major reservoirs — Mangla and Tarbela —dropped to historic lows.

“Total storage stood at 0.89 million acre feet (MAF) compared to storage of 6.81 MAF the same day last year,” said Khalid Idrees Rana, spokesman to the Indus River System Authority. Pakistan total storage capacity is 13.681 MAF

“Tarbela (dam) is at very alarming stage”, he said explaining that its storage stood at 0.128 MAF on Monday – almost half compared to a historic low of 0.254 MAF.

The situation at Mangla — the country’s largest reservoir by capacity — was no better. “Mangla is also at very critical stage today,” he said, adding the storage at this dam was recorded at 0.718 MAF on Monday compared to historically low level of 0.914 MAF.

Storage around one tenth of what it was last year

Total river flows also dropped to 259,000 cusec on Monday compared to 396,000 cusec recorded on the same day last year.

In view of the grim evolving situation, the cut to provincial shares was increased to 14pc from 9pc on June 25 when total storage stood at 1.63 MAF.

The provincial shares were further cut owing to reduced flows in rivers after temperatures in the catchment areas of Skardu fell to an unprecedented 18-19 degree Celsius.

As a result, Punjab is currently being provided 109,000 cusec while Sindh share was set at 145,000 cusec. The share of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was set at 14,000 cusec and 3,100 cusec respectively.

River Chenab that had seen upsurge in flows after recent heavy rains in Jammu also witnessed flows dropping to 72,600 cusec on Monday after attaining a peak of 109,000 cusec.

Inflows in river Indus were recorded at 108,600 cusecs on Monday against outflows of 141,200 cusecs while Kabul flows at Nowshera were reported at 47,000 cusecs. Inflows in Jhelum at Mangla were recorded at 30,600 cusecs against outflows of 11,700 cusecs.

Live storage capacity at Tarbela was recorded at 128,000 acre feet while its water conservation level stood at 1,398.28 feet against its minimum operating level of 1,386 feet maximum conservation level 1,550 feet.

Live storage at Mangla was was recorded at 718,000 acre feet and conservation level at 1,117.05 feet against its minimum operating level of 1,050 feet and maximum 1,242 feet.

Total inflows at rim station were reported at 258,000 cusec against outflows of 272,500 cusec.

The provinces have already faced over 60pc water shortages in early Kharif season, affecting crops sowing across the country, particularly Sindh and Balochistan.

Kharif cropping season starts from April-June and lasts until October-December in different parts of the country. Rice, sugarcane, cotton, maize and mash are some of the key crops of the season.

Published in Dawn, July 3rd, 2018