Water Shortage in Sindh hits an alarming rate of 60% – authorities concerned about predicted drought in 2025

According to media reports, the barrages of Sindh continue to face a severe water shortage. According to Minister for Climate Change Sherry Rehman, the province faces a dangerous 60 percent water shortage in the Indus river, putting the provincial population, agriculture, and livestock at massive risk. To counter this risk, the Indus River System Authority (IRSA) authorized the opening of two controversial link canals on Wednesday:

  • The Chashma-Jhelum (CJ) link canal, which was opened on Tuesday with a flow of 958 cusecs and was being provided 2,000 cusecs on Wednesday, is operated by the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda).
  • The Taunsa-Panjnad (TP) link canal was regulated by Punjab’s irrigation department, for which a flow of 2,404 cusecs was allowed on Wednesday.

Why are the canals controversial?

Anonymous irrigation officials in Sindh stated that IRSA Chairman Zahid Junejo was against the opening of the CJ canal. He claimed:

The canal can not be operated at this time as Tarbela Dam has inadequate flows, and Sindh’s indent for water flows has not been met yet. The downstream flows of Kotri barrage also remain zero, and, above all, permission from the Sindh chief minister for the opening of the CJ link canal has not been sought. CJ is an interprovincial canal and can’t be operated like this. It can only be run when Sindh’s intent is met, and surplus water is in the system.

According to sources, both the link canals have always been a bone of contention between Sindh and IRSA. These days Sindh’s barrages face an acute water shortage due to the inadequate water flows in the River Indus system. Early and now peak Kharif season was being badly hit in the province, leading to an outcry from the representatives of growers’ bodies.

Engineer Explains the Missing Flows of Guddu Barrage

An anonymous irrigation officer shared:

Interestingly, an engineer of the Punjab irrigation government is present at Guddu barrage these days and will vouch that flows are reaching there. However, there is another disturbing trend in the flows. Taunsa’s downstream flows were recorded at 47,532 cusecs on the 6th of May — up by 6,000 cusecs a day earlier on the 5th of May. This is intriguing. Guddu barrage upstream flows always improve four days after Taunsa downstream flows record an upward trend. Given this travel time between the two barrages, the rising trend at Taunsa barrage downstream is not being reflected at Guddu barrage upstream since May 8. The over 13,000 cusecs of flows released downstream Taunsa between the 6th of May and the 11th of May have gone elsewhere because the downstream has shown a constant increase since the 4th of May after observing a dip initially.

The Sindh Irrigation Secretary Sohail Qureshi stated:

The issue of opening the link canals dominated a meeting of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Water Resources. Sindh Irrigation Minister Jam Khan Shoro raised the issue because when the province did not experience normal flows, why were the link canals allowed to be opened.

The shortage of Water in Sindh explained

The control room in charge at Sukkur barrage, Aziz Soomro, shared:

An average of 62pc shortage was recorded at all three barrages of Sindh on Wednesday.

The barrage-wise shortage in Sindh shows:

  • Sukkur barrage short of 53.12pc with flows of 18,516 cusecs against an allocation of 39,500 cusecs
  • Kotri barrage is 69.4pc short with a flow of 4,805 cusecs against an allocation of 15,700 under the Water Apportionment Accord 1991.
  • The Guddu barrage canals are presently closed.
  • On Wednesday, Sukkur barrage’s main Rohri canal had a shortage of 41.6pc
  • North-Western Canal had a shortage of 46.4pc
  • Nara Canal has a shortage of 33.6pc
  • Similarly, a 77.7pc shortage was being observed at Kotri barrage’s Akram Wah [controlled by the Sindh Irrigation and Drainage Authority (Sida)]
  • 76.6pc storage was observed at the new Phulelli
  • 69pc shortage was observed at old Phulelli
  • 27.5pc shortage was observed at Kalri Baghar feeder.

These shortages are likely to worsen when the non-perennial old Phulelli (controlled by Sida) will be opened to supply six-month water.

Dangerous Shortage Scares the Government

Expressing concern over the Sindh water crises, Federal Minister for Climate Change Senator Sherry Rehman shared:

The 60pc shortage of water on the River Indus is very dangerous. The province’s population, agriculture, and livestock are at risk due to the 52pc to 62pc shortage in Sindh’s barrages and canals. Many cities of the province are not receiving water due to a shortage in the Indus. Kotri barrage downstream should have an adequate 15,000 cusecs of water, but instead, less than 2,000 cusecs were being released. Due to this severe shortage, farmers are dangerously at risk of losing their cotton, rice, and other crops in Sindh. Water scarcity in Sindh and south Punjab is problematic in this warm weather.

The minister quoted a UN report as saying:

Pakistan will experience a drought by 2025. According to a 1991 accord, equitable distribution of water was essential. We have to ensure water conservation and fair distribution among the provinces.

The country is extremely likely to face dramatic crises if the government doesn’t come up with a recommended solution soon. Residents of Pakistani are recommended to conserve water as much as possible so their fellow brothers and sisters can find refuge in difficult times.

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