HYDERABAD: Sindh Chamber of Agriculture (SCA) president Miran Mohammad Shah has rejected the three-tier formula of the Indus River System Authority (Irsa) for water distribution and also questioned water flows’ statistics of Irsa released on May 16.

In this regard, he has addressed a letter to Irsa chairman Rao Irshad Ali Khan and special assistant to prime minister on food security Jamshed Iqbal Cheema on Tuesday.

The SCA president terms historic usages (1977-82 post-Tarbela Dam period) water flows as worst in terms of water distribution for Sindh. He said flows in that period were, however, taken as benchmark by Irsa.

But contrary to accord’s provision, Irsa was keeping historic usage as benchmark, he said, adding that Sindh had a share of 48.76MAF in accord whereas as per historic usage it was 43MAF, causing 5MAF deficit in Sindh.

He said the second manipulation was that no storage was left behind for Kharif season which started from April 1. Sindh had early sowing trends, thus it needed water for cotton sowing in April and May and during that period river flows remained minimum, he added.

He said harvesting of wheat was seen during that period in Punjab, thus there was no water requirement for the province. He said non-availability of water in reservoirs affected Sindh and from mid-May, river flows improved while cotton sowing in Punjab started from May 15 onwards.

He said Sindh was deprived of water share since commencement of Kharif and added para-2 of Water Accord 1991 was overlooked for distributing water as per accord and a majority 3-2 decision was thrust on Sindh to share shortage as per three-tier formula instead of pro-rata sharing. “Sindh faces deficit of 7MAF because of the said benchmark of usage of flows,” he claimed.

He said that for the past 45 days (April 1-May 15) 0.046MAF flows were released downstream Kotri that did not even reach sea but was consumed for drinking purposes whereas 0.45MAF was required in 45 days.

He questioned Irsa’s statement mentioning that Sindh was given more water than Punjab in Kharif. He said cotton sowing started in Mirpurkhas and Hyderabad divisions in March and early April while wheat harvesting was seen in Punjab during that period, thus water needs remained negligible for Punjab.

He said 3.421MAF was Sindh’s share till May 10 but actual utilization stood at 2.477MAF that put shortage at 29pc, therefore Irsa’s claim of four per cent shortage was totally against facts. He drew attention of the Irsa chairman to link canals’ operation, saying that those were to be operated conditionally like meeting indents of all provinces and availability of sufficient storage in dams.

Unfortunately, he said, link canals were opened without knowledge of Sindh’s representative in Irsa. The SCA president said: “We never misreported losses in Sindh.” He said there were rumours that Irsa was allowing a power plant at Taunsa-Panjnad link canal without Sindh’s consent.

He said the idea of three-tier formula was not workable and the SCA rejected that formula for water distributions at any stage. “We demand immediate closure of TP and Chashma-Jhelum link canal,” he said.

He said that on May 18, Guddu Barrage was having 51,353 cusecs flows, Sukkur 44,750 cusecs and Kotri 8,288 cusecs that were totally negligible and insufficient. “With these gauges, we will not be able to cultivate paddy in Sindh,” he said.

He said that from May 21 Sindh needed water flows including 61,000 cusecs at Tarbela and 43,000 cusecs inflows in Kabul River that totalled 104,000 cusecs.

He said Soan River would cater for Thal canal. He said Chashma upstream requirement withdrawals were 8,000 cusecs; Sindh 100,900 cusecs; Balochistan 9,000 cusecs; Taunsa 14,000 cusecs and cumulatively that would make up for 131,000 cusecs.

Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2021

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