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ghazi52

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Managing water scarcity is a function of judicious use in agriculture — not demanding additional supplies

July 2, 2021
Ali Tauqeer Sheikh

The writer is an expert on climate change and development.

PAKISTAN’S water leadership has brought the country’s water security to the brink. Supply-side management has historically driven our water institutions. Primarily designed to distribute water, a resource that was once available in abundance, these institutions have continued to build one case after the other for higher water quantities, at no or very little cost to themselves, instead of finding ways of efficiently managing unbelievably large quantities they already have at their disposal in both Punjab and Sindh.

Water-related institutions have become bystanders in the face of long-term critical trends: they have closed their eyes to the changing crops and expansion of water-intensive cropping, growing urban and out-of-basin usage, and altered patterns of monsoons causing water variability. Also, agriculture has steadily moved from subsistence level to water-intensive commercial cropping, draining the country’s surface and sub-surface waters. The new agro-industries influence water decision-making at all levels. The result? Water prices are static like the fuel needle of a non-moving car.

With the Indus Waters Treaty, prestigious engineering marvels have become the key drivers of our water and nation-building policies. This fascination has dominated our water management approach. Instead of finding economic virtues in water saving and efficiency, we continue to invest in infrastructure that only help us imagine abundance. The Water Apportionment Accord (WAA) is a good example of living in this fantasy world.

The WAA laid the principles for water distribution of 114.35 MAF among the four provinces, a high-quantity figure that has never been available since 1991 when the accord was inked. This notional level is not possible unless new reservoirs are built upstream in Gilgit-Baltistan that is otherwise not a part of the accord. The undercurrent is the construction of at least one large dam for full implementation of the interprovincial agreement. In several ways, this ask is at the heart of the water conflict between Punjab and Sindh.

Managing water scarcity is a function of judicious use in the most wasteful sector — agriculture.
The WAA has left it to the Indus River System Authority (Irsa) to figure out how to manage lesser quantities in various months for various crops. The WAA has, however, left two basic questions unaddressed: i) what if there was no agreement on the construction of new reservoirs, and ii) how the growing scarcity would be managed in the interim.

Real life is more complex: the WAA had not envisioned the prospect of a Seraiki province in southern Punjab and the political importance of providing water through the Taunsa-Panjnad canal during acute scarcity. Also, it was not envisioned that Punjab would lose most of its 9.3 MAF water to India from the Beas, Ravi and Sutlej, leaving about 3 MAF — and that too mostly during the monsoons — to become even less flexible with Sindh in the Irsa meetings.

Irsa data shows that during 20 out of 29 years of the accord, the shortages in the Indus have fluctuated between 10 per cent and 28pc, while for the remaining nine years it was less than 9pc.

Simply put, an average 9pc water savings in agriculture of the two provinces would have given us almost a decade without any shortfall. Or, about 28pc less water application in two provinces could help us manage within the existing water budget, without any additional storage capacity. This line of thought alone can give the accord a lease of life for another 30 years. The message for Pakistan’s water leadership is simple: managing water scarcity is a function of judicious use in the most wasteful sector — agriculture — rather than shouting at each other for additional supplies.

A series of ad hoc decisions during the 2021 pre-monsoon scarcity reveal the bankruptcy of water decision-making that vacillated between hope and despair. Knowing that the shortfall had previously touched 28pc on several occasions, it was simplistic, if not naïve, to hope that the crisis could be averted with a 10pc reduction in supplies.

Later, the cuts were increased incrementally to 23pc and 32pc. The reservoirs were allowed to hit dead level knowing that refilling can jeopardise canal flows risking Kharif crops and halt energy production in Tarbela during the peak demand season. Instead of taking responsibility for poor policies, Irsa blamed continued low temperatures in Skardu, late rains in the upper reaches and climate change.

Concurrently, Irsa took several last-minute but important decisions that in future can serve as the basis for long-term scarcity management by the provinces. This includes facilitating early sowing of wheat in Sindh during April and disallowing rice cultivation in the areas between the Guddu and Sukkur barrages.

In fact, long-term scarcity management would require two additional steps. First, phasing out of paddy between the Sukkur and Kotri barrages; second, curtailing direct outlets downstream Guddu, particularly in the upper districts of Jacobabad and Sukkur on the one hand, and Khairpur and Naushahro Feroze on the other. Over-consumption there leaves precious little for the districts in the lower regions.

In the WAA’s lexicon, “record of actual average system” uses data for 1977-82 that forms the basis for Irsa to share shortfalls and surpluses. In 1991, it was the only data set available. New data sets have not been entertained. The system failed with the first serious shortfall when, in 2000, the flows shrunk to 102.73 MAF. Sindh and Punjab started invoking different clauses of the accord to get additional supplies.

Irsa created a three-tier formula for Punjab and Sindh, leaving KP and Balochistan out of this arrangement. In 20 years, Irsa has failed to convince Sindh. Going forward, it is clearly time for Irsa to break the stalemate and find some new basis for scarcity management. Oddly, Irsa still monitors surface water flows manually rather than using available telemetry technologies.
The accord is based only on the principle of historical usage for water distribution.

Punjab and Sindh need to work together to create policy space by exploring such actions as i) economic efficiency in usage including water trade, ii) population size that relies on surface water supply, iii) special needs because of droughts, iv) environmental flows for the delta and creation of wetlands, and v) climate-induced variations in water flows.

Published in Dawn, July 2nd, 2021
 

ghazi52

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Spate irrigation

Spate irrigation (from the English word spate, meaning: a. a flood or inundation. b. a river flooding its banks) uses seasonal floods of rivers, streams, ponds and lakes to fill water storage canals. If irrigation is the manipulation of water for use in growing crops, spate irrigation is perhaps the most ancient method devised. Evidence of basic spate irrigation engineering can be traced back beyond recorded history and include the Ancient Egyptian diversion of the Nile River for storage at times of heavy rainfall for use in the dryer times of the year.

In spate irrigation, water is diverted from normally dry river beds when the river is in spate. The flood water is then diverted to the fields. This may be done by free intakes, by diversion spurs or by bunds, that are built across the river bed. The flood water, typically lasting a few hours or a few days, is channeled through a network of primary, secondary and sometimes tertiary flood channels. Command areas may range from anything between a few hectares to over 25,000 hectares (62,000 acres).

"Sailaba" (Hill Torrent Spate Irrigation System).

"Spate irrigation system of Sailaba agriculture provides livelihood for a large number of resource-poor farmers in fragile arid environments of the Balochistan province. In Pakistan there are over 1.45 million hectares under Sailaba system (Khan1987, cited by van Steenbergen 1997), whereas recent estimates indicate that the potentialcommand area is around 2.0 million hectares (PARC 1995)"

Between Quetta and Kalat


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ghazi52

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Under Construction Tabai and Barkas Dams in District Khyber, KPK
On completion, an increase in irrigation supplies, Crop production and harvest water sustainably will be enhanced.



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ghazi52

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To provide million gallons of clean drinking water to the citizens of Rawalpindi, the construction of Dhaducha Dam has been started at a cost of 6.4 billion rupees.


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ghazi52

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Construction work on 800 MW Mohmand Dam swiftly progressing, completion in 2025.

• 2 Billion 86 Crore units will be produced annually
• Peshawar, Nowshera & Charsadda will be protected from flood
1,80,000+ Acres will be irrigated
• 1.293 MAF Storage Capacity
 

ghazi52

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It is hydraulic structure for distribution of water.
It is point from where Rohri Canal splits into two canals and forms Nasser Canal which runs thru Tando Allahyar. Sindh..



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