ISLAMABAD: Though water position has significantly improved in Islamabad and Rawalpindi and surrounding places because of an ample rainfall, the Met Office on Friday issued a drought alert mainly for Sindh and Balochistan due to the low monsoon rainfall, and advised all stakeholders to be ready to handle the situation.

The Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) had predicted that the rainfall in July and August would be below normal over most of the southern parts of the country, and up to 70pc deficit rainfall has been recorded in Sindh.

“Moderate to severe drought is prevailing in most parts of Sindh, including Tharparkar, Mityari, Hyderabad, Jacobabad, Dadu, Karachi, Shahdadkot, Umerkot, Sanghar, Sajawal, Shaheed Benezirabad, Jamshoro and Khairpur.” The water deficit districts of Balochistan are: Dalbandin, Gwadar, Jiwani, Panjgur, Nokkundi, Ormara, Quetta and Turbat, it said.

Mild to moderate drought like conditions recorded in a few places of southern Punjab are in the districts of Multan and Mianwali. Similar conditions in Gilgit-Baltistan are in the districts of Bunji, Chilas, Gilgit and Gupis.

“The drought like conditions may get severe in coming days, especially in southern parts of the country, causing water stress not only for the agriculture sector but also for other usage,” said the Met Office.

Due to the poor monsoon rain, the Mangla Dam could not be filled to its full capacity.

“Water shortages are most likely to occur during Rabi sowing season, therefore, a judicious use of available water has to be assured.” Due to the gradual fall in temperature, snow and glacier melt contribution to the Indus River will also reduce from September onwards.

The Met Office also said the monsoon air-mass was retreating from Pakistan and western disturbances would gradually extend to southern latitude leaving the next 2-3 months as a transition period.

The prediction for the fag end of monsoon is that the weather system will gradually diminish by the middle of September. The amount of rainfall is expected to remain slightly below normal in KP, Balochistan, central and lower Punjab and Sindh.

The mountainous regions of Gilgit-Baltistan and upper KP may receive normal precipitation during the period.

However, the snowfall season is likely to start at the higher elevation by the end of October.

Published in Dawn, September 8th, 2018