LAHORE: The Punjab government allowed the Indus River System Authority (Irsa) to divert the province’s share of water to Sindh to help it complete cotton sowing and has been taking a hit of 16 percent shortage against only four percent for Sindh, claims provincial irrigation minister Mohsin Leghari.
Responding to the allegations leveled by Pakistan People’s Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari that the PTI-led federal government was creating “artificial water crisis to deprive Sindh of its water due,” the minister claimed at a press conference on Monday that Sindh was in fact getting more water than its due share under the water accord.
He said at present (April 1-May 10) the Punjab endured 26pc shortages against 15pc by Sindh if the water accord shares are taken as a benchmark. However, if the (Advisory Committee’s) approved criteria is taken as a rule for the same period, the Punjab’s shortages stood at 16pc and Sindh’s only 3.6pc, he added.
Minister says largest province suffers 16pc shortage
Talking about water transfer through link canals, Leghari said Chashma-Jhelum Link Canal was not transferring water to Jhelum River as it is only running to feed the Greater Thal Canal (which do not have any other source of supply) and is drawing water from Punjab’s share as per allocated in the 1991 accord. Taunsa-Panjnad (TP) Link Canal feeds Lower Rang Pur Canal which off-takes from TP Link as there is no other source to feed it, and it was being fed from the Punjab’s share.
Though Punjab has the right to utilise its share from all canals, it had not used a single drop of water from the CJ and TP Link canals, he added.
The minister said that due to the excessive supply from the Mangla Dam to Sindh, through downstream Panjnad, the dam’s situation was worsening, but still Sindh was being fed. According to the plan, Mangla Dam should be filled up to 80pc by the end of June. Otherwise, it runs the risk of not getting filled.
So far, he said, Punjab has released 0.93 million acre feet (MAF) water to Sindh at the cost of 50 feet drop in the Mangla Dam. The province is unable to feed Panjnad canals as per requirements for the same reason and was facing 30pc deficit.
Despite these severe shortages, Sindh has so far released 46,000 acre feet water downstream Kotri barrage, he regretted and said Punjab was fairly distributing its share within the province and it was responsibility of Sindh to do the same within its canals instead of accusing others.
“The Punjab is not the reason, nor responsible for water shortages in Karachi, Badeen, Thatha etc. It was rather taking a hit in its canals because Sindh needed additional water for cotton sowing and was being fed from Mangla. On the contrary, Irsa was not providing Punjab’s due share of water at Taunsa Barrage; the province is getting only 9,955 cusecs against the requirement of 30,000 cusecs – a shortage of 69pc,” Mr Leghari concluded.
Published in Dawn, May 18th, 2021