Pakistan Facing 38 Percent Water Shortage: IRSA

Pakistan is experiencing an acute water shortage of 38%, compared to a projected lack of 22%, with Sindh and Punjab experiencing severe water shortages for Kharif crop cultivation.

In the meeting of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Water Resources at Parliament House, the Indus River System Authority (IRSA) presented data on water shortages.

The meeting, however, turned out to be a debate between IRSA members from Punjab and Sindh about water shortages in their respective provinces. Chairman IRSA and member Sindh, Zahid Junejo, and Member IRSA Punjab, Amjad Saeed, had a heated argument about the mechanism for water distribution and the water shortage in both provinces.

The original Water Accord 1991, its historical uses, and its three-tier formula were primarily discussed in this debate, and Saeed accused Junejo of distorting facts.

The committee was informed that the Indus inflows at Tarbela were 13% lower than expected — 1.831 MAF versus 2.102 MAF — while the Kabul inflows were 46 percent lower, Mangla by 44 percent, and Chenab by 48 percent.

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According to the IRSA, actual inflows during this period were 5.350 MAF compared to the projected 8.590 MAF, indicating a 38 percent shortfall.

It maintained that national rainfall in April 2022 was 74% below normal, making it the second driest month since 1961. In April, rain remained below average across the country. Punjab received 89 percent, KP received 79 percent, Balochistan received 79 percent, Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) received 56 percent, and GB received 51 percent. The IRSA also stated that the massive decrease in Kabul River inflows was unexpected.

Sindh’s Irrigation Minister Jam Khan Shoro questioned why Sindh has been allocated 42 percent less water and why water is being released to connect canals in Punjab when Sindh has a drinking water shortage. IRSA Punjab then claimed that the province had no other option for feeding its troughs than the Indus system.

The committee was also informed that the Council of Common Interest (CCI) Secretariat had formed a Steering Committee, chaired by the Minister of Water Resources, to resolve differences between provinces.

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Nawab Yousaf Talpur presided over the meeting, which was attended by Federal Minister for Water Resources Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah, Sindh’s Minister for Irrigation Jam Khan Shoro, and other officials.

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