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LAHORE: About one-third telemetry instruments of Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) are out of order, causing problems in data collection related to rains in the catchments areas of rivers, said sources.

According to the sources, some 14 out of 42 telemetry systems are reporting no data since long and the concerned staff has no option but to leave relevant columns empty in their day to day reporting. They said the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) has recently written a letter to Wapda officials to explain why a “dash” is being marked in front of these 14 equipment as the absence of data leads to poor assessments related to inflows of rainwater in rivers and their tributaries.

It may be noted that Wapda has deployed its staff permanently at the PMD office but none of them is able to explain as to why the data was not available from one-third automatic telemetry equipment. Therefore, the PMD has formally taken up the issue to the officials of Hydro Resource Management Division. Meanwhile, the Indus River System Authority (IRSA) sources has pointed out that faults occurred in the telemetry system under Wapda control simply because it carried out installation of the equipments without consulting other stakeholders. The system was not operating up to the mark since 2005, they added.

Similarly, water gauges of the irrigation department and radars of the meteorological department are reportedly being rated as obsolete items, thus leaving the concerned authorities to rely upon the sketchy data about Pakistan available at international websites.

Accordingly, poor data collection of rainwater in the hill torrents and catchment areas of rivers has wreaked havoc in Balochistan and South Punjab.

The sources from PMD pointed out that the Indian side has also blocked access to its data over the past two years, which was earlier utilised to gauge the volume of rainwater in and around major rivers. Also, they said, no more data on water quantity in rivers is available from the Radio Jammu, which was routinely aired some two years back. It may be noted that the federal government is in the process of finalising Rs 10 billion project with the World Bank for installation of 300 automatic weather stations at tehsil level throughout the country at present. The objective of the exercise is to equip PMD with latest data collection mechanism to avoid rising vulnerabilities of climate change in the region. Already, a series of deadly wildfires has raged over 100 locations across the country from March to May this year due to unprecedented heat wave.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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