ISLAMABAD - Indus River System Authority (IRSA) Friday said that Tarbela Dam had attained its dead level of 1386 feet and Punjab and Sindh might face shortfall of approximately 70 to 80 percent in their canal systems in coming five to ten days.

However, the shortages might be reduced in the wake of impending rainfall and enhancement of temperatures being foreseen in the catchment areas, says a press release issued by Irsa.

“Today Tarbela has attained its dead level of 1386 feet, therefore in the next 48 hours, river supplies will be adjusted as under” the press release said.

Punjab will get share of 4000 cusecs from Indus and 14,000 cusecs from Jhelum-Chenab zone, Sindh will gain 14,100 cusecs, Balochistan 4,000 cusecs and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 2,400 cusecs so a total 38,400 cusecs will be released.

Seasonal shortages for both Punjab and Sindh would remain at 36 percent as announced by Irsa at the start of the Rabi 2017-18 season. In a clarification about a meeting of National Assembly Standing Committee on Water held on Feb 28, Irsa said besides other matters, water related issues pertaining to the Irsa were also discussed.

In this regard, some section of press published that Chairman Irsa showed inability to close the Chashma-Jhelum (CJ) Link Canal as well as implementation of Water Apportionment Accord 1991.

However, it is clarified that Irsa chairman took stance that any member of Irsa or chairman Irsa alone can’t take any decision, as all the issues in the authority in respect of implementation of Water Accord is settled by the votes of majority as embodied under Chapter II Clause 8 (2) of Irsa Act XXII of 1992.

As such chairman Irsa single handedly can’t take any decision. Irsa was established in regulating and monitoring of water sources of Indus River in accordance with the Water Accord amongst the provinces. Till to date, Irsa is performing its functions vested under Irsa Act XXII of 1992 in true spirit and letter.

Irsa is distributing waters will the full consent of the provinces after approval of its Advisory Committee comprising all members, members water and power, Wapda, chief engineering adviser, chairman Federal Flood Commission and secretaries irrigation and agriculture of all federating units.

Regarding operationalization of three tier formula which comprises para 14(b), para 2 and para 4 of the accord, it is clarified that the formula was derived in 2003 with consensus of all stakeholders in Irsa Advisory Committee meeting under the chair of Nasar Ali Rajput, the then member Irsa federal/chairman Irsa who belonged to Sindh province.

In the presence of grievance redressing forum of CCI, discussions at different forums may aggravate the situation and would definitely ignite the unrest amongst the federating units which should be avoided in the best national interact.

Regarding opening of any channel/ link, it is clarified that from October 1, 2017 to 22-02-2018 Chashma Jhelum Link Canal remained closed and Punjab was directed to cater for its Trimmu-Sidhnai and Panjnad Canal Systems requirements from Mangla Dam.

But when Mangla Dam touched its dead level, the availability in Jhelum-Chenab zone reduced to 12,000 cusecs against Punjab's share of 25,000 cusecs thus there was no other source, except Indus to save the standing crops of South Punjab.

Therefore Irsa decided with majority votes in an authority meeting dated 22-02-2018 to immediately open the CJ Link Canal with a discharge of 4,000 cusecs as long as water is available in Tarbela Dam.

This season, provinces of Punjab and Sindh received excessive water with respect to allocations made by Irsa while Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa received less water despite the fact that both the provinces being smaller are exempted from sharing of shortages.

Irsa categorically clarified that the authority is implementing the Water Accord 1991 in letter and spirit without any external pressure. Any province, if aggrieved from any decision of IRSA may approach the Council of Common Interest (CCI). Irsa emphasized that in the backdrop of climate change scenario, reducing capacities of Tarbela and Mangla, the water availability situation would remain volatile and the country's water economy would remain prone to unexpected flash floods, and sudden droughts. The situation demands immediate attention of the planners for construction of at least two mega dams simultaneously on war footing.