Pakistan's rabi season

Published: Sunday 31 October 2004

pakistan's Indus River System Authority (irsa) has predicted a 56 per cent water shortage in the country's upcoming rabi season from October 1, 2004, to March 31, 2005. The assessment was approved at a meeting of irsa's technical committee, held at Islamabad on September 25 and 27, 2004. The provinces also agreed to irsa's water distribution plan.

"Estimated figures of the availability of water presented by the Water and Power Development Authority, the North West Frontier Province (nwfp), Punjab, Sindh and irsa were discussed in detail... irsa has re-evaluated the water availability projections for rabi 2004-05 and an average shortage of 56 per cent is expected. These figures will be reviewed in irsa advisory committee meeting to be held shortly," irsa said in a statement released to the media after the meeting.

Going by the estimated 56 per cent water shortage, a little over 18 million acre feet (maf) water will be available during the rabi season against the requirement of 36.5 maf. There is also a 5.3 maf carry-over from the last season.

Media reports pointed out that the approval of 56 per cent shortage, as against the 37 per cent estimated by irsa and supported by Sindh and the nwfp, will go against Sindh's interests. Sindh would require more water in the early part of the season for sowing wheat than what it would get if the distribution is made on the basis of 56 per cent shortage. Later, more water will be distributed if the shortage is lower, benefiting Punjab, where sowing starts late. Punjab had estimated 56 per cent shortage.

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