The Advisory Committee of the Indus River System Authority (Irsa) on Tuesday projected a water shortfall of 28% for the Punjab and Sindh during the Rabi season 2021-22, which might affect the output of major crops such as wheat, grams and lentils.
The committee, which met here with Saif Anjum in the chair, finalised the water availability projections for Rabi 2021-22. It was estimated that a total of 26.911 million acre foot (MAF) water would be available for the provinces during the Rabi season.
The main Rabi crops are wheat, gram, red lentil, tobacco, rapeseed, barley and mustard. Pakistan has become net importer of wheat during the present government due to different reasons. The low yield is also one of the reasons for the shortage.
For the current Rabi [October-March] season, the water regulator has projected the water shortfall of 28% for the major wheat producing provinces, Sindh and Punjab. The shortfall of water might affect the crop production.
According to the Irsa, the inflow of water during Rabi 2021-22 is estimated at 21.592 MAF, while the water storage this year is 7.414 MAF for the Rabi season. Transportation losses are estimates at 2.044 MAF, besides 0.052 MAF flow into the sea during water courses cleaning.
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The total availability for the whole season is estimated at 26.911 MAF. The committee allocated 14.361 MAF to Punjab, 10.827 MAF to Sindh, 0.701 MAF to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and 1.022 MAF to Balochistan.
This means that Punjab and Sindh each will face 28% reduction in water availability for the current plantation season. On Balochistan’s demand for 1.026 MAF surplus water, it was decided that the province should prepare its working paper and present it in the next meeting.
The agenda for the rest of Water and Power Development Authority’s (Wapda) T3 and T4 work was postponed till the next meeting of the committee. The authority was asked to prepare a working paper and present it in the next advisory committee meeting.
During the meeting, the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) was asked to prepare the terms of reference (TORs) for the joint disposal management and submit them to the Irsa.
Last week, Irsa failed to finalise the anticipated water availability criteria for Rabi 2021-22 because the representatives of the Sindh government, Zahid Hussain Junejo, walked out from the meeting against the water distribution mechanism. The committee then rescheduled its meeting for October 5.
The meeting was attended by the Wapda Member Water, Wapda Member Power, the Chief Engineer, the provincial irrigation representatives, the provincial agriculture representatives, and other relevant officers.