IRSA projects 38pc water shortage in coming Rabi season

Met official forecasts less rainfall this winter, with no rains in October and November

ISLAMABAD: Food security crisis owing to water shortage in the upcoming Rabi sowing season is expected, as the Indus River System Authority’s (IRSA) advisory committee on Monday projected 38 per cent water shortage for crop cultivation.

IRSA, in an earlier statement, had said that the country’s Rabi crops would face 50 per cent water shortage. However, it now projected the shortage to be at 38 per cent. Following the projection, it was expected that the country would face an acute water shortage in the Rabi sowing season, which may lead to a food security crisis in the future.

IRSA Chairman Sher Zaman Khan chaired the meeting which was attended by the provincial WAPDA secretaries of Punjab and Sindh along with representatives from Balochistan and KP.

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During the course of the meeting, the IRSA advisory committee estimated 18.99 million-acre feet (MAF) river inflows and 5.89 MAF water storage during the Rabi season. The IRSA body also projected system losses at 1.73 MAF.

The committee further noted that water flow below Kotri barrage would be 0.04 MAF while water availability at canal head was estimated at 23.11 MAF.

During the meeting, a Met official briefed the IRSA body that winter rains would be below normal, forecasting no rains in October and November.

The IRSA advisory committee asked the provinces to use better management techniques to utilize the available resource and stressed vigilant monitoring of water usage.

IRSA on the occasion allocated 12.18 MAF water share for Punjab, 9.21 MAF for Sindh, 0.70 MAF for KP and 1.02 MAF for Balochistan. It was informed that total 23.11 MAF water would be available during the Rabi season, starting from October 2018 to March 2019.

On Monday, rivers inflows in Indus at Tarbela stood at 51,300 cusecs and outflows 100,000 cusecs, inflows in Kabul River at Nowshera were 9,700 cusecs and outflows 9,700 cusecs, inflows in River Jhelum at Mangla were 9,100 cusecs and outflows 15,000 cusecs, inflows at River Chenab at Marala were 20,500 cusecs and outflows 6,000 cusecs.

Wheat was the largest crop in the Rabi season. Gram, lentil, tobacco, rapeseed, barley, mustard gram, lentil, tobacco, rapeseed, barley and mustard were some of the other Rabi crops that might underperform during the season.

It is relevant to note that in the current Kharif sowing season, total water shortage was recorded at 21 per cent. Province-wise breakdown showed that Punjab faced 20 per cent shortage, Sindh 17 per cent, Balochistan 44 per cent and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 33 per cent.

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Ahmad Ahmadani
The author is an investigative journalist. He can be reached at
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