Irsa predicts over 50pc water shortage

ISLAMABAD: The Indus River System Authority (Irsa) has projected over 50 percent shortage of water during Rabi season with current level of rains in the country.

Briefing the National Assembly Standing Committee on Water Resources on current water situation in the country after the current spell of rain Irsa Chairman Zahid Hussain Junejo said that if there is no more rain there will be more than 50 percent water shortage in Rabi.

The committee presided over by Nawab Yousaf Talpur was informed that provinces were facing shortage of water before the recent spell of rain. The current rainfall is less than the total water requirement. Mangla has 10% water and more rains are needed to fill this dam.

Zahid Junejo maintained that if there is not much rain there will be more than 50% water shortage in Rabi.

“If there is a shortage of water in Rabi season, then think what will happen to the Kharif crops with respect to water availability,” warned Chairman IRSA adding that if the rainfall is good, dryness can be reduced.

Secretary Water Resources, Kazim Niaz said April was the driest month in ten years, adding that it rained heavily in July but Pakistan’s water reservoirs are still 70% lower than normal.

The Committee expressed concern that Irsa has failed to develop a proper mechanism of water distribution among the provinces over a period of time due to mismanagement and lack of coordination with the provinces.

The Committee directed IRSA to develop proper liaison with all provinces and adopt remedial measures to ensure timely provision of water so that they could meet their water requirements accordingly.

Replying to a question raised by Nuzhat Pathan, MNA, Chairman Irsa stated that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has consumed 42 per of its share.

In response to the query from Chairman Standing Committee whether India is stopping inflows, Chairman IRSA replied that India does not have storage on Chenab River, adding that whatever quantity of water comes in Chenab river subsequently comes to Pakistan.

He maintained that inflows in Jhelum River are coming into Pakistan as there was also no storage facility on this river in the illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir. He further stated that Wullar Lake cannot be controlled.

Chairman Standing Committee opined that the country has to move towards alternatives in view of water scarcity, suggesting that provinces should be represented in the water resources committee.

He further stated that there is representation from Punjab but no representatives from Sindh and Balochistan. The Committee decided to write letters to Chief Secretaries of Sindh and Balochistan to attend the meeting.

In reply to a question about closure of Neelum Jhelum Hydropower Project, Secretary Water Resources noted that dewatering of 3.5 kilometers will take one month after which the reason for the blockage in the tunnel would be known.

The project company has contacted the contractors of Neelum Jhelum Hydropower Project and apprised the latter of the plant’s malfunction.

The Committee appreciated the Harpo Hydropower Project (HHP) however it directed the management of HHP to ensure the completion of the said project within the given timeframe to fulfill the water requirements of the local residents.

Earlier, Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources and Chairman, IRSA briefly apprised the Committee about the efforts made to meet the water requirement of the country and problems in this regard.

The meeting was attended by Dr. Muhammad Afzal Khan Dhandla, MNA, Engr. Sabir Hussain Qaimkhani, MNA, Wajiha Qamar, MNA, Ms. Nuzhat Pathan, MNA and officials of M/o Water Resources.—MUSHTAQ GHUMMAN