The Indus River System Authority (IRSA) highlighted the critical situation of water shortage for irrigation needs in its technical committee’s meeting on Tuesday.
The meeting was headed by Director Operations Khalid Idrees Rana where it was iterated that country needs two mega dams to meet the water shortfall, with irrigation water shortage expected to touch 35-40% for Rabi season which starts on October 01. Representatives from Pakistan Meteorology Department (PMD), Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) and all the provinces were also present at the meeting.
The advisory committee’s meeting is scheduled on Monday in which Chairman ISRA would work out the plans for water distribution and availability projections for the provinces based on the stakeholders’ estimates.
Comparatively, the lowest shortfall of 49% was witnessed in 2001-02, with the previous year’s number being 36%; the crop output of 25.4 million tonnes was very close to the target only due to conducive weather conditions.
Kharif’s shortfall was recorded to be 19% – initially estimated to be around 36% – thanks to the good amounts of rainfall in the Monsoon season.
While a conducive spell of rains in December-January may help tackle the water shortage to some extent, the constant shortfall has long-term implications; groundwater extraction lowers the overall water table while creating issues for authorities in terms of managing groundwater extraction.
In addition to the Diamer-Basha dam, Pakistan is in dire need of two big dams to meet the country’s water demands.
As of September 20, Balochistan’s shortfall (44%) was the highest, followed by KP (21%), Punjab (20%) while Sindh whose Parliamentarians have been raising their voices the most against Kalabagh dam, witnessed the lowest shortfall of 16%.
An official maintained that the irregularities in the numbers for Sindh and Balochistan mean that Balochistan’s water has been consumed by Sindh despite the 1991 water accord; infrastructure constraints cannot be used to cut the water shares of provinces like KP and Balochistan.
Balochistan has already recorded their complaint with the Council of Common Interest (CCI).