HYDERABAD: Amid acute water scarcity in the country, the two major provinces refused to budge an inch on the issue of river water flows at their barrages despite the recent flow measurements by Wapda’s International Sedimentation Research Institute (ISRIP) at Taunsa and Guddu.
Sindh officials accuse their counterparts in Punjab of not agreeing to independent evaluation by the ISRIP that endorsed Sindh’s figures, whereas the Punjab officials blamed the former for choosing an irregular site at Guddu for monitoring and for ‘mal-regulation’ at the barrage.
A final showdown is expected at the National Assembly’s committee on water resources meeting, scheduled to be held on June 3 when not only the anomaly of the figures but also the measurement exercise would be discussed before submission of a report.
Sindh is said to have concurred with the measurement of water flows at Guddu and Taunsa during inspection by a committee of NA’s standing committee on water resources.
NA committee likely to settle the matter tomorrow
According to senior irrigation officials of Sindh who were part of the measurement exercise in the third week of May, the measurement done by Wapda’s ISRIP actually substantiated Sindh’s claim about less water flows at Taunsa downstream. Despite a mathematical mistake seen in Guddu upstream flows, the upward recording of flows “supports Sindh’s claim of missing flows between Taunsa and Guddu”, an official said, adding that Sindh’s reported discharge at Guddu upstream (45,748 cusecs as reported on May 15 at Guddu by Sindh versus 36,567 cusecs of ISRIP) had no bearing on measurements by the team of ISRIP, a Wapda’s subsidiary, engaged by a sub-committee of the NA panel.
The committee members visited Sukkur and Guddu barrages on May 14 and 15. “Flow measurement was done by ISRIP team as per Mehr Ali Shah’s insistence for reliability of flow measurement. Neither Sindh nor Punjab officials were supposed to measure flows given the mistrust involved. But yes they also did it for their own record. We were there to facilitate the visiting team,” another official disclosed.
Punjab’s claim that its representative’s request for measuring flows at (Desert) Pat feeder and Ghotki (feeder) of Guddu barrage was declined was incorrect owing to the fact that the very measurement was done by ISRIP team at Guddu barrage and those two off-taking canals. “Such measurement sheets of Guddu are available with us,” the Sindh official claimed.
However, Punjab irrigation official said the Badani site was suggested by Sindh officials when Punjab representatives pointed out that the 300-ft downstream Guddu site was not straight. “The Sindh official suggested moving to Badani, where the river flow was smooth and straight otherwise we were unaware of the point.”
He claimed the Punjab representative was dismounted from the boat in a kutcha area when he demanded applying ‘moving bed correction’ on the ADCP and the incident was reported to the committee immediately.
He also said there was no bar on giving any suggestion or raising any objection on the activity and this flexibility was evident when the task of monitoring of river flow was shifted from Sukkur to Guddu after a two-hour mutual discussion.
However, the Sindh official said the sites for inspection in the province were chosen by Punjab’s representatives and in Punjab by Sindh under the committee’s decision. “As far as monitoring at Badani [20km downstream Guddu] is concerned, it was done by Punjab’s representative on his own so question of dismounting him from the boat simply doesn’t arise,” he said. In fact, he claimed, Punjab representative (irrigation official) had borrowed Sindh’s ADCP (acoustic doppler current profiler) and tampered with its compass.
According to MNA Magsi, issues of trivial nature had cropped up during the measurement exercise, which had been discussed in the committee’s May 25 meeting as well. “If we keep sticking to those issues, then we will not be making a productive contribution to resolve water issue between two provinces.”
Amjad Mahmood in Lahore also contributed to this report
Published in Dawn, June 2nd, 2022