Irsa alarmed over dwindling Chenab water flows


By Khalid Mustafa

ISLAMABAD: The Indus River System Authority (Irsa) on Thursday was alarmed over the fact that the water flows in the River Chenab had reduced by 30 per cent during the last three years.

This is now a known fact that the Indian projects on the River Chenab and destruction of ecology by Indian forces in the catchment areas of the river have resulted in the reduction of water flows due to which the Punjab’s agrarian economy has suffered a lot.

The technical committee of the Irsa, which met here under its chief engineer Aurangzeb Khattak and attended by representatives of the four provinces, worked out the water probabilities for the next Kharif season, which would start on April 1 and end on September 30. The Wapda representatives also attended the meeting. “All members in the meeting expressed their concerns over the dwindling water flows in the River Chenab, saying against the 10- year average water flows of 22,000 cusecs recorded during these days, the Chenab flows have now reduced to just an average 14,000 cusecs per day. This is an alarming reduction in water flows,” a senior official, who attended the meeting, told The News.

However, water flows in rivers Jhelum, Indus and Kabul have increased to reasonable levels. The water flows in Jhelum, Indus and Kabul right now stand at 115,000 cusecs while the rivers had just 77,000 cusecs in the corresponding period of the last year.

When asked if the committee had decided to sensitise the government about this bitter fact, the official said this was not the mandate of the Irsa, but to give observations about it. The official said the technical committee’s meeting had worked out water probabilities under which the country was estimated to have 100 million acres feet of water during the next Kharif season. It also worked out the system losses of 20 per cent at the River Indus and 10 per cent at Jhelum and Chenab Zones.

To a question, the official said the advisory committee of the Irsa would now meet on March 31 and would finalise the water availability based on the probabilities worked out by the technical committee of water regulatory body. The advisory committee would also chalk out the water distribution strategy in the Kharif season.

Idrees Khalid, spokesman for the Irsa, confirmed that the technical committee had worked out availability of 100 MAF of water for the next season. He said the Irsa may decide to open the Chashma-Jhelum link canal depending upon the water availability

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