Pakistan to face 37 percent water shortage in the ongoing Kharif season

A few months after being met with unprecedented floods, Pakistan is now set to face about 37 percent water shortage during the Kharif cropping season, according to the IRSA advisory committee.

In a meeting held by the Indus River System Authority (IRSA) Advisory Committee, spokesman Irsa Khalid Rana announced that a 25 percent water shortage was anticipated for early kharif season and 10 percent was anticipated for the later kharif season. The meeting was held to decide the 2023 kharif season water eligibility criteria and was attended by representatives from each province, IRSA, and WAPDA members.

The meeting ended with a consensus to keep using the already in practice three-tier formula for distributing water shares among the provinces; Punjab and Sindh would face a 27pc water shortage in the early Kharif and 10pc in the late Kharif season. This plan was finalized based on WAPDA’s revised Tarbela 5 operational constraints, as the authority agreed to provide water releases below 1,432 feet conservation level and operate some of its power plants under Tunnel 3.

The Water Accord 1991 authorizes IRSA to determine water availability criteria and share of each province twice a year, once for Kharif season and the other for the Rabi season. Rabi season begins on October 1st and ends on March 31st, while Kharif starts from April 1st and continues till September 30th.

An issue faced by the water regulator was the difference between the two large provinces – Sindh and Punjab – over the conveyance losses. Therefore, a committee, under the convenorship of Member IRSA (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), was decided to be constituted to determine actual system conveyance losses. Whatever the recommendations on actual system losses determination to be devised by the said committee, based on actual discharge measurements, would be applicable to the system losses determined by the Advisory Committee.

Despite facing such calamities and infrastructural failures in the past, the Government and relevant institutions have failed to build an established system to mitigate and deal with such catastrophes. Sufficient funding has not been allocated to devise long-term solutions and policymaking for fulfilling infrastructural gaps. Pakistan is still an agriculture-dependent country, therefore, both the Federal and Provincial governments must prioritize the agenda of modernizing and revolutionizing the agricultural sector in Pakistan.

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