Islamabad - Showing serious concern over WAPDA’s failure to fill the Tarbela Dam to the maximum conservation level of 1550 feet despite depleting water levels in the reservoir, the Indus River System Authority (IRSA) on Monday cut the water share of both Punjab and Sindh by 21.5 percent.

IRSA held WAPDA responsible for not taking prompt action on the authority’s request of July 28 to fill the reservoir to its capacity. “Consequently, the intend of both Punjab and Sindh has been reduced by 69000 cusecs,” said IRSA spokesman Khalid Rana.

The decision was taken at an emergency meeting of IRSA held here under the chairmanship of IRSA Chairman Rao Irshad Ali Khan. All IRSA members attended the meeting, while General Manager Tarbela represented the WAPDA chairman on the occasion.

Accordingly, Sindh will be given around 27 percent less water while Punjab’s share will be 14.2 percent less.

The meeting reviewed the water situation in River Indus, Tarbela and Mangla reservoirs, and expressed serious concern over the situation in Tarbela.

The meeting had been called in view of water flow reduction in River Indus and filling of Tarbela Dam to 1541.47 feet only, more than eight feet less than the peak level.

The water flow in River Indus at Tarbela is presently 145000 cusecs while the release, as of Monday, was 150000 cusecs. “IRSA has already taken up the issue of Tarbela Dam filling,” the spokesman said.

According to a source, at a Federal Flood Commission meeting held here last week, the IRSA Chairman had complained to the Federal Minister for Water and Power, Khawaja Asif, about WAPDA’s lackluster response.

It is pertinent to mention here that in a letter, written early this month, the IRSA chairman had asked WAPDA to fill Tarbela Dam given the bumpy monsoon rains.

The letter carried the instruction that the filling be done as per the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) so much so that the water levels could reach maximum up to 1550 feet.

According to the SOP, water from 1 foot to 4 feet a day can be stored in the reservoir. But WAPDA kept filling around one foot of water daily; consequently leaving the reservoir more than 8 feet short of its capacity.

“Now it has been decided to bring to Minister for Water and Power’s notice non-cooperation by WAPDA,” the spokesman said.

Giving details of the decisions taken by IRSA, the spokesman said that it had been decided that Punjab and Sindh will get water under Para 2 of the Water Accord of 1991, full share plus 20 percent losses.

“Sindh dissented, and demanded 40 percent losses. But finally the matter was decided through voting and the decision was taken by a 3 to 2 majority. Member Balochistan in IRSA also voted for Sindh,” the spokesman added.

“The Sindh’s present demand is 180,000 cusecs,  but under per Para 2 of the Accord, the province will get 131,000 cusecs of water.

The intend of Punjab was 140,000 cusecs, but now it will get 120,000 cusecs,” the spokesman said.

The cuts were made as demands of both Punjab and Sindh were more than their shares. After the decision, Tarbela water release reduced to 145000 cusecs from 150000 cusecs, while water release from Mangla Dam increased to 45000 cusecs from 30000 cusecs.

Furthermore, IRSA has asked Punjab to draw water from Mangla for Trimmu and Panjnad canals, while Chashma Jehlum Link Canal has already been closed down whereas Taunsa Panjnad Canal will be closed in three days time.

The spokesman said that Sindh’s main concern was with respect to losses. Sindh and Balochistan wanted 40 percent conveyance losses but looking at the history, IRSA allowed 20 percent only.

He further said that all regulatory messages of IRSA were binding on WAPDA and IRSA was going to take up the issue at appropriate forum.