LAHORE: Water inflows into major reservoirs are improving due to snow melting on mountains following increase in temperatures.

The Indus River System Authority’s fresh data shows 37 per cent increase in inflows within the last week, as the system received 158,347 cusecs of water on May 7 in all its rivers against 98,852 cusecs a week ago.

Tarbela Dam, the largest water reservoir in the country which hit a dead level of 1,392 feet on Feb 22, showed an improvement of 16 feet as water level was 1,408 feet on May 7. On Saturday, the inflow into Tarbela was 62,400 cusecs and outflow 51,000 cusecs.

The situation at Mangla Dam improved further as its water level was 1,081 feet on May 7 against 1,074 feet a week ago. This reservoir too had almost hit the dead level of 1,050 feet three weeks ago. Data puts average water inflow at 30,890 cusecs and outflow at 33,315 cusecs at the weekend.

Water inflow into Chenab at Marala also improved from 13,174 cusecs on April 30 to 21,057 on May 7.

The delay in the snow melting process, despite an early onset of summer in mid-March, has put pressure on the national water supplies, which dipped substantially below the average of the last five years or so. The Kharif season started with a 40pc shortage — 30pc in the Indus and 10pc in the Jhelum arm — which rose to 52pc by April-end.

The situation was more precarious in Mangla largely because the dam is mainly rain-fed and there has virtually been no rain during March and April. The Met office had predicted five spells of rain in March, but only one occurred.

There was also a phenomenal drop in the snowfall in the mountainous region of the country this season, as against a yearly average of 50 inches, only 37 inches of snowfall was recorded this year. This snow too has fallen on higher altitudes, where the temperature needs to be more than 23 degrees Celsius to melt it.

Badly hit by the water shortage, farmers in Sindh and Balochistan have begun protesting on roads and staging sit-ins outside irrigation offices.

Published in Dawn, May 9th, 2022

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