May 31, 2010

Sindh: Water Shortage Hurts 30% Of Standing Crops

Active ImageThe standing crops of cotton, sugarcane and rice, which are in their final stages of cultivation in Sindh, will suffer if water from Chashma-Jhelum Link Canal is not realised within a couple of weeks.
Below is an article published by Daily Times:

Usually water from Chashma-Jhelum Link Canal is released by April 15 every crop season but due to adamant attitude of the Punjab government, Sindh is still waiting for its water share, PCGA Chairman Rana Abdul Sattar said.

It is pertinent to mention that the Indus River System Authority (IRSA) had closed the Chashma-Jhelum Link Canal from where Sindh used to get its share of water for irrigation. Furthermore, PCGA, sugarcane and rice growers condemned the statement of Punjab Irrigation Minister Ahmad Ali, who said that the IRSA should be closed down and another body be formed to handle the water distribution issue.

Sattar said, “Punjab government, during former prime minister Nawaz Sharif tenure, established IRSA and now how can a Punjab minister ask to abolish it.”

Sindh is still waiting for around 65,000 cusecs of water of its quota, whereas the province has only received 25,000 cusecs of water this season out of a total of 100,000 cusecs, he maintained.

Ahmad said that during a meeting recently, it was decided to increase Punjab’s share of water from 100,000 cusecs to 116,000 cusecs, while discharge from Mangla Dam has been increased from 10,000 cusecs to 48,000 whereas Sindh’s share from Mangla Dam has been increased from 90,000 cusecs to 100,000 cusecs and its share from Tarbela Dam also increased to 95,000 cusecs from 5,000 cusecs.

The Punjab government released about 25,000 cusecs water from Chashma-Jhelum Link Canal during 17 days of talks with Sindh officials, Rana lamented. He said Sindh usually receives its irrigation water quota by May 7, every year but due to closure of Chashma-Jhelum Link Canal, the Sindh growers have lost the benefit of May weather on the crops.

“Water theft is on the rise in Punjab and other provinces are not getting their due share of irrigation water,” Rana added.

According to sources, Punjab Irrigation Department has ruled out the allegations by Sindh regarding water theft, saying that Sindh could not prove the alleged water theft of even a single cusec on Punjab.

Punjab has faced water shortage of around 32 percent while Sindh suffered 29 percent till February 15, irrigation department sources said.

“Usually when the sowing season in Sindh ends, it starts in Punjab and during this time if the water situation improves, then according to the water distribution formula the share of the provinces is revised. When this happens, Punjab benefits and Sindh loses,” PCGA member Shakeel Ahmad said.

“If water is not released by the second week of June from Chashma-Jhelum Link Canal, around 30 percent standing crop will be damaged in Sindh, he added.

He said that when every issue on water distribution has been settled then why does the Punjab irrigation minister want to abolish the IRSA and form a new body.

Sindh Irrigation Minister Murad Ali Shah also expressed his anger and said, “The water share of Sindh is being encroached upon, which is against all norms and conditions agreed between the stakeholders.”

The sources said that by the time sowing started in Punjab the water levels would be higher and a revised water-sharing formula would diminish Sindh’s share of water even further.