TAXILA, June 19: Severe water shortage in the coming hot summer is feared to grip Rawalpindi and Islamabad as well as the irrigation beneficiaries of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as water in Khanpur Dam is dying out fast.
Official sources revealed this while talking Dawn on Tuesday. They said that due to decrease in the inflow of water, hot weather and no major rain in the catchment areas, underground rocks and the dam’s bed has started to be visible at some points, which was an alarming sign.The dam authorities also confirmed that water level in the reservoir had reached an alarmingly low level.
“Now even the river Haro, which fed the dam, had also started drying up,” an official said.
An insider revealed the water inflow had reduced to 11 cusecs while its outflow from the dam was 146.18 cusecs and warned that the dam would not be able to provide water for drinking purposes to Rawalpindi and Islamabad after July.
He said that for municipal water supply, 60 cusecs per day was being supplied to the CDA in Islamabad. He added that for irrigation purpose, Punjab was being given 30 cusecs while the KP was getting 50 cusecs a day.
He feared further curtailment in water supply for irrigation purposes was inevitable if the catchment areas failed to get more rains so that municipal needs could be met.
Commenting on the issue, Asim Saeed, Project Director Khanpur Dam said the water level in the dam had reduced to 1,924 feet above sea level – just 14 feet above the dead level.
Saeed said good rain in the catchment areas could ease the situation and refuted reports of unavailability of water after July for drinking purpose saying, “There is enough water in the dam to be used for drinking by the twin cities for as long as a year.”
The visitors and picnickers’ flow to the dam’s scenic site had also shown massive decline and boatmen have left their boats abandoned on the dried up surface of the lake.
Raja Mohammad Javaid, who runs different water and speed boats here, said due to reduction in the water level, the visitors, tourist and picnickers’ flow to the lake has declined considerably.
Kashif Ilyas, who came to spend his weekend with his family at the lake, said his family was disappointed to see the dam as they no more had the opportunity to enjoy the thrill of boating.
Kehkashan Tanvir, another visitor from Wah Cantonment said she had come along with her kids to enjoy boating but were disappointed.
Moreover, the experts feared, water curtailment for irrigation sector could cause major threat to the world famous orange orchards and farms of loquat and lychee. Farmers of the fruit growing areas also feared it would affect their produce.