Irsa turns down Sindh’s water release request for upcoming Kharif season

Irsa advisory committee to meet on April 2

ISLAMABAD  -   The Indus River System Au­thority has turned down the demand of the Sindh province, regarding the provision of the entire provincial share of water supplies, during the upcoming Kharif season, in the beginning two months of the season, say­ing it is not possible.

Similarly, the water regula­tor has also turned down the province demand for water dis­tribution according to Para-2 of the Water Apportionment Ac­cord (WAA), saying the matter is with the Council of Common Interests (CCI) and it is their domain to decide about it, offi­cial source told The Nation here Friday. The meeting of the advi­sory committee of the IRSA has been convened on April 2, to finalize the provincial share for the Kharif season starting from April 1. The Water Accord 1991 empowered IRSA to determine water availability in the coun­try and provincial share twice a year, once for Kharif season and the other for Rabi season. Rabi season starts from October 1 and ends on March 31, while Kharif starts from April 1 and continue till September 30. 

The province of Sindh has written a letter to IRSA, and demanded the provision of the entire share of water during first two months of the sea­son, while it also demanded the distribution of water as per para-2 of the Water Accord. “I am directed to inform that the climatic conditions in Sindh are such that sowing season of Kharif crops commences dur­ing the month of April and in view of this, it is the require­ment of Sindh that it should get full share of supplies during ear­ly Kharif i.e during the months of April & May,” said a letter of the government of Sindh ad­dressed to chairman IRSA. 

Any inadequacy in supplies during early Kharif deprives the farmers of sowing cash crops like cotton and other tow delta crops and conse­quently those farmers would shift to rice cultivation which increases the overall water demand also insufficient sup­plies during early Kharif pro­long the Kharif season due to demand accumulation, which impacts subsequent Rabi Sea­son, the letter maintained. 

To ensure optimum crop pro­duction, it is of utmost impor­tance that Sindh province being lower riparian having flatter land slopes may be provided its accord share in true spirit so that crops are allowed to reach maturity and withstand the typ­ical climate change/rain flood­ing which usually occur during Mid Kharif Season, it argued.

However, the regulator has turned down the demand say­ing that it is not possible to provide the entire share of wa­ter in two months, said source. Besides, sharing of water be done as per Para-2 at the Wa­ter Accord 1991, in true letter and spirit, it added. In case, short supplies are anticipated, the adjustment may be made accordance with Para 14-b of the Accord on pro-rata basis to all over Pakistan. The regula­tor also declined this demand and said that the matter is with CCI and it is the appro­priate forum to deal with the matter, the source added.

Moreover, it is stated that the Right Bank Side canals of Suk­kur Barrage are the hard flow/controlling canals and their flows directly depend upon the pond level of Sukkur Barrage. Because of inadequate river dis­charge, the pond level of Sukkur Barrage cannot be fully cared in order to release full supplies on the Right-Side canals including NWC which supplies water to Balochistan. To sustain the de­sired pond level, additional wa­ter may also be earmarked, the letter maintained.

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