HYDERABAD: Measurements done at Guddu and Sukkur barrages last week found that “Sindh’s claim of missing flows between Taunsa downstream and Guddu upstream” was correct, members of a joint team reported on Sunday.

The team was set up by the federal Water Resources Ministry for monitoring of flows at barrages in Sindh and Punjab after a recent meeting of the National Assembly’s standing committee on water resources.

A member of the team confided to Dawn that “water flows released from Taunsa barrage for Sindh didn’t reach Guddu contrary to a claim by the Indus River System Authority (Irsa)”.

“Either there is misreporting at Taunsa or the water is being drawn in Punjab,” he said. He added that 28pc of the losses were allowed between Chashma and Guddu. He was alluding to 60,000 cusecs of flows being released from Taunsa for Sindh. The flow was leading to a substantial rise at Taunsa upstream, but shortages kept worsening in Sindh as this rising trend was not observed at Guddu upstream.

60,000 cusecs released from Taunsa not reaching Guddu, monitoring team finds

The official said these missing flows varied between 13,000 and 16,000 cusecs and it was not being confirmed within Sindh’s territory or at Guddu barrage, Sindh’s first barrage over Indus, where water flows from Punjab are first received.

When the water shortage took an alarming turn in the province last week, Irsa claimed that flows for Sindh had been raised upto 67,000 cusecs at Taunsa downstream to meet the shortfall in Sindh and that the ‘situation for water availability will improve’ soon.

The high-powered team set up by the water ministry was busy in measurement of river flows at Guddu and Sukkur for last week. “The team, especially Punjab’s Irsa member Amjad Saeed, had been told to feel free while checking flows at Sukkur and Guddu. And they did it,” according to two Sindh irrigation sources from Sukkur and Guddu barrages.

The team consisted of Indus River System Authority (IRSA) chairman Zahid Junejom, who is from Sindh, water resources ministry’s joint secretary Mehar Ali Shah, Punjab member Amjad Saeed, Balochistan’s representative Hameed Mengal, and two standing committee’s members, MNAs Khalid Magsi and Riazuddin.

Irsa’s member from Punjab was said to be backed by a number of engineers from Bahawalpur and Multan. Representatives from the Indus Sedimentation Research Institute of Pakistan (ISRIP) were a part of the team.

“The team was allowed to have measurement of flows while using Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP),” said the source.

Sindh Irrigation Minister Jam Khan Shoro told Dawn that “Sindh’s stance over missing Guddu-Taunsa flows stands vindicated in the initial measurement process”.

“The team had set up sub-stations at Sukkur barrage, but then some team members decided to measure water at Guddu first and everyone moved there without demur,” he added.

“Guddu is the spot where flows are received first in Sindh. A flow recorded at Guddu always has a bearing on the rest of our irrigation system,” he observed.

“Today’s flows at Guddu upstream were recorded at 37,000 cusecs, but it should have been around 60,000 cusecs if the record for past flows for Taunsa downstream are to be believed,” said Jam, the minister.

According to an official, 65,000 cusecs downstream flows were recorded at Taunsa barrage on May 15. “With these flows, the total inflow at Guddu should have been 55,000-58,000 cusecs on May 15 even after adding 10pc to 12pc losses.

“Guddu showed a 45,800 cusecs upstream discharge on Sunday. This means at least 13,000 cusecs of water flows are missing,” he said.

Sources in the provincial irrigation department said Punjab’s member insisted on a repeat of the exercise after an initial verification of flows. “He even objected to site selection of a river upstream Guddu as the team had to ride boats to measure flows. It caused displeasure to Mehar Ali Shah,” a source said.

One official confirmed that “Sindh’s reading of flows is correct as far as availability of water Taunsa barrage downstream is concerned. But this is to be rechecked and finally documented”.

Khalid Magsi, a member of the National Assembly’s standing committee and leader of the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP), told Dawn “while recalibration of flows is being done again at Guddu barrage, an initial measurement shows a differential of 16,000 cusecs of water between Guddu and Taunsa”.

“We will verify flows at Taunsa barrage on Monday (today). Considering seepage or evaporation or overall water losses, any shortfall in actual water flows between Taunsa and Guddu will be confirmed.”

Sindh irrigation officials questioned the flows released Taunsa downstream for the province after May 6. They argued the rising trend noted at Taunsa was not having any impact at Guddu upstream.

Even Sindh Irrigation Minister Shoro claimed that flows between Guddu and Taunsa had “gone missing in writing”.

This observation has aroused curiosity in Sindh.

Published in Dawn, May 16th, 2022

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