Sindh CM urges Irrigation Dept to manage situation, give priority to drinking water

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Staff Reporter

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has said that water shortages in Kharif is expected from 10 to 60 percent, therefore he has directed Irrigation department to evolve strategy to face the shortages and priority be given to provide drinking water.
This he said while presiding over a meeting on expected water shortages during the upcoming Kharif season here at the CM House today. The meeting was attended by Chief Secretary Rizwan Memon, Principal Secretary to CM Naveed Kamran Baloch, Secretary Irrigation Syed Jamal Shah and other concerned officers and engineers.
Secretary Irrigatyion Jamal Shah briefing the chief minister said that the water availability in the Basin has emerged deficient below the allocated discharge since March 9, 2017. The situation has worsened with the new spell of snowfall in Northern areas and reduction in the temperature. The run-off from the catchments has reduced which resulted in alarming depletion of Tarbella and Mangla Reservoirs.
He said that indent of the province of Sindh at Chashama Barrage in March 2, 10 daily is 40,000 CFS against which 22,798 CFS is the total flow of the downstream Chashma. This includes the Punjab requirement of the canals off-taking from Taunsa Barrage.
The secretary said that the expected shortage would start from March 18, starting from 10 percent to 60 percent in the first 10-daily of April. He added that the situation has a similar trend as of the year 2012 with better hope that the snow fall in the 2017 is more than that of the 2012. The complication is the abrupt fall in Skardu temperature. “IRSA has informed if melting of snow and rainfalls are delayed, the situation may further aggravate and can extended to the end of April 2017,” he said.
The chief minister said that he had directed him (secretary Irrigation) to hold a meeting with chief engineers of all three barrages and discuss the way forward to face the ultimate situation at maximum shortage that the province would face.
The secretary Irrigation said that he had held a meeting with the chief engineers and optimum strategy was formed. Talking about strategy, he said that on March 31 there would be scheduled yearly closure period of Guddu Barrage. Till that time the pond level would be lowered and maintained at RL 249 for supplying water to Balochistan (1000 CFS), power station and Ghotki Canal (1000 CFS). On April 1, the barrage gates would be fully raised and water would be totally released to downstream.
Talking about Sukkur Barrage, he said that total withdrawals of Sukkur Barrage would be 10,100 CFS during the shortage. On the right bank NWC & Dadu Canal would be closed on March 31 under the scheduled closure. Balochistan’s share in March 3, 10-daily from Sukkur Barrage right bank is 700 CFS which would be ensured upto March 31. However, NWC & Dadu Canal are reduced proportionately. Khairpur Feeder East and West would be released 650 CFS each (-50%). Rohri Canal would be operated in three and would receive 5000 CFS. Nara Canal would also be operated in two groups and would receive 3800 CFS.
Discussing strategy about Kotri Barrage, Jamal Shah said that from the Sukkur Barrage 3000 CFS would be released for the Kotri Barrage. The allocation of Kotri Barrage during March 3, 10 daily is 4000 CFS. With the improvement of flows at Sukkur priority would be given to Kotri Barrage to meet its drinking water needs and early Kharif requirements. During April 1, 10-daily, the Kotri allocation is 6500 CFS.
On this the chief minister directed the Irrigation department to inform public immediately about the shortage of water. This should also be disseminated that the priority is assigned to drinking water needs.
He said that late sowing of crop may also be publicized for cotton from May 1 for Nara and Rohri Canals and 15th May for Ghotki Canal. “For the pedi /rice cultivation, after observing situation at the end of April, a fresh strategy may be formed to facilitate khatedars of rice canal commands,” he said.
Syed Murad Ali Shah said that adjustment in the canal discharge to manage the shortage should be made after consultation and advise of the concerned chief engineers. Kotri Barrage would receive water proportionately however, “priority be assigned to drinking water needs of the canal commands off-taking from the barrage,” he said.
The secretary Irrigation said that almost all the canals have to bear 50 percent shortage in the supply of water however, the experience of dealing with such a situation already exists and would be dealt according.
He said that the operation of Kinjhar Lake would be optimized to cater for maximum period of time, the supply of water, to Karachi city. The chief minister directed the irrigation department to issue advise to KWSB to make use of water within city looking to the shortage of flows in all rivers and the existing shortage within the lake.