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ISLAMABAD: The Indus River System Authority (Irsa) on Wednesday expressed concern that Tarbela reservoir can touch dead level during the next 24 to 48 hours, and provinces may face more shortages than anticipated previously.

The water regulator issued this statement a day after confrontation between Irsa chairman Rao Irshad, who is also Member Punjab, and Member Irsa Sindh, Zahid Junejo, on the opening of the Taunsa Panjnad canal.

This confrontation was witnessed at the political level in Punjab and Sindh with PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Sindh chief minister, provincial ministers and Sindh Assembly expressing their reservations over the untoward incident and water shortages whereas Punjab chief minister Sardar Usman Buzdar also issued a statement.

Irsa in its statement said that it undertook a review of water situation in the country on May 26, 2021, during which it was noted that water in rivers have further reduced by 18,800 cusecs.

According to the water regulator it is felt that Tarbela reservoir may touch dead level during the next 24 to 48 hours, indicating more shortages.

An Irsa spokesperson said that after reviewing the current situation of water inflows, it can be assumed that water share of provinces may be further curtailed in the days to come.

"It has also been felt that water shortage which was estimated to be 17 per cent during a meeting held on May 24, 2021 may further increase," he added.

Irsa, the spokesperson said, has intimated about the expected water situation in the country during coming days.

Meanwhile, in letters to Secretary Irrigation Sindh and Secretary Irrigation Punjab Director Operations, Irsa, Khalid Idrees Rana said that total rim-station inflows of 153,000 cusecs for Wednesday have decreased by 18,800 cusecs from total inflows of May 25, 2021 of 171,800 cusecs.

The temperatures at Skardu are also below normal this year which are inhibiting the flows in almost all the rivers especially in Indus.

The present inflows situation from April 1 to May 26, 2021 indicate cumulative shortfall of 20 per cent of which 25 per cent shortfall at Indus, 29 per cent at Kabul, +2 per cent at Jhelum and 33 per cent at Chenab.

Director Operations further stated that as is evident from the inflows' figures, the total rim -station inflows are less than Irsa's anticipation by 18 per cent with only Jhelum flows being just above the average by 4 per cent. Comparison with 10-year average is also gloomy and showing 23 per cent shortfall. Irsa had previously presented in the National Assembly Standing Committee on May 24, 2021 that distribution would be done at 17 per cent shortage for the balance early Kharif season. However, looking into the dwindling inflow pattern, its seems that shortages will go beyond 17 per cent.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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