ISLAMABAD: The Indus River System Authority (IRSA) on Sunday issued warnings of a looming water crisis in Pakistan, as only 2,20,000 cusec acres of water is available in reserves to meet the growing water demand in the country.
Raising alarm over the prevalent acute shortage of water in the reserves, IRSA informed that the current water storage in the reserves stood at 0.220 million acres feet (MAF), due to which the provinces of Sindh and Punjab would face 51 per cent shortage of water.
According to IRSA, the water inflow in the rivers of the country was measured at 1,12,900 cusecs, while river outflow remained at 1,19,300 cusecs. The authority said that a total of 1,23,600 cusecs of water was being provided to the provinces.
Per details, Sindh was receiving 55,000 cusecs of water, Punjab was receiving 57,000 cusecs of water, Balochistan was getting 8,000 cusecs, and Khyber Pukhtunkhwa (KP) was receiving only 3,000 cusecs to meet its water demands. Also, the total shortage of water was more than 49 per cent, around 51 per cent at rim stations, while canals were faced with a water shortage of 65 per cent, IRSA said.
“This 51 per cent shortage is at rim stations but at canal head, after conveyance losses, it would be 65-70 per cent,” it further informed.
The authority also said that Chashma-Jehlum link canal was completely closed and TP link canal was receiving 1,177 cusecs.
It was also learned that on the same date last year, inflows were 3,75,100 cusecs while this year the water flow had dropped to 1,12,900 cusecs. In addition, the storage last year was 3.6 MAF and this year it was only 0.22 MAF, thus revealing a big gap in storage capacity and inflows.
Water levels in the country’s reservoirs was expected to improve in the next few days, as the temperature in Skardu had climbed to 25 degrees Celsius, which was 22.8 degree a day earlier. With the rise in temperatures, river inflows would hopefully increase slightly in the country, but it would take about 72 hours to impact Tarbela’s inflow, IRSA said.
IRSA spokesman said that in the current situation, only exceptional monsoon or early glacial melting would ensure that dams were filled to full capacity, otherwise the situation may turn worse, not only in the Kharif but also in the Rabi season.
The Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) issued its rivers flow and reservoirs level alert on Sunday. It provides details of the position of the river inflows and outflows at Tarbela, Mangla and Chashma, along with measuring the level of reservoirs and the barrages.
Per WAPDA’s report, the inflow of Indus River at Tarbela was 42,200 cusecs and outflow was measured at 45,000 cusecs, inflow of Kabul River at Nowshera was 18,100 cusecs and outflow was 18,100 cusecs, inflow of Jhelum at Mangla was 34,300 cusecs and outflow was 37,900 cusecs, and inflow of Chenab at Marala was 18,300 cusecs and outflow was 8,900 cusecs. Similarly, the inflow of Jinnah barrage was 67,800 cusecs and outflow was measured at 64,300 cusecs.
Moreover, Chashma inflow was 50,900 cusecs and outflow were 65,000 cusecs, Taunsa barrage’s inflow was 65,900 cusecs and outflow was 61,200 cusecs, Panjnad’s inflow was 2,300 cusecs and outflow were zero cusecs. Further, inflow at Guddu barrage was 44,000 cusecs and outflow were measured at 37,500 cusecs. Meanwhile, inflow at Sukkur barrage was 34,900 cusecs and outflow 11,400, while at Kotri barrage, the inflow was 6,000 cusecs and outflow was nil.
WAPDA also shared details about reservoirs (level and storage) on Sunday. Per details, the minimum operating level at Tarbela was 1,386 feet, while the present level was 1,387.25 feet, maximum conservation level was 1,550 feet, and live storage on Sunday was 0.013 MAF. Similarly, the minimum operating level at Mangla was 1,050 feet, the present level was 1,088.90 feet, maximum conservation level was 1,242 feet, and live storage was 0.205 MAF. Likewise, the minimum operating level at Chashma was 638.15 feet, the present level was 638.20 feet, maximum conservation level was 649 feet, and live storage was zero MAF.
“The inflows and outflows of River Indus at Tarbela and Chashma, River Kabul at Nowshera and River Jhelum at Mangla have been reflected as mean flows of 24 hours, whereas the other flows have been gauged at 6.00 am,” WAPDA on Sunday.
It is worth mentioning here that the construction of dams and barrages by India over River Chenab and River Jhelum, in violation of the Indus Waters Treaty, created the problem of water shortage for Pakistan, which was turning severe with the passage of time.
Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) had already issued a warning that the country may run dry by 2025 if the authorities did not take immediate action to pacify the situation. According to PCRWR, Pakistan touched the “water stress line” in 1990 and crossed the “water scarcity line” in 2005.