‘Country in grip of drought-like conditions’

‘Country in grip of drought-like conditions’

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ISLAMABAD: The river flows have improved for now with river Kabul in high floods but drought-like conditions have already hit most parts of the country, affecting Kharif crops.

The Indus River System Authority (Irsa) on Friday said the river flows had more than tripled to 342,400 cusec since May 26 when they stood at 108,000 cusec. It said the river Kabul was now in “high flood” at Nowshera. Therefore, the water shares to Punjab and Sindh had been increased significantly and storage had been improved to one million acre feet (MAF).

On the other hand, the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) said the country may have already suffered the loss and called for “an immediate water management strategy (by all the stakeholders) to avoid negative impacts of deficit rainfall on water and agriculture”.

“Due to deficient rainfall, drought like conditions have emerged over the most parts of Pakistan”, said the PMD explaining that moderate-to-severe drought was prevailing in barani areas of Punjab, lower KP, South Punjab, southwest Balochistan and southeast. Sindh.

On the other hand, dry condition was observed in southern parts of the country during the past five months. “This dry condition caused water stress in the agriculture areas of the country that demands availability of more supplementary irrigation water for Kharif crops”, the PMD said.

It said the water availability in major reservoirs was low, however, water situation in major dams would improve with increase in temperature. On the other hand, small dams situated near Islambad were at critical level and ground water boring and well become dry upto the depth of 150 feet in most areas of Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

The PMD said winter months of January – March received negative 62percent well below normal rainfall whereas April – May witnessed negative 9.9pc while average January to May noted 45pc normal rainfall over Pakistan.

The Irsa said the temperature at Skardu was recorded at 30 degree Celsius on Friday which was slightly lower than Thursday but even these temperatures were sufficient to intensify the snow melting process in catchments.

As a result, river inflows have further increased from 342,400 cusec on Friday to 356,300 cusec or 13,900 cusec higher than Thursday and 108,000cusec on May 26. The outflows were increased from 277,700 cusec or 31,100 cusec higher than a day before.

The storage in dams have increased from 0.850 MAF to 1.036 MAF. River Kabul was in high flood on Friday with its flows recorded at 91,000cs at Nowshera.

As a result, the Irsa increased provincial shares. Punjab’s share was increased from 100,200 cusec to 107,000 cusec while Sindh’s share was increased to 110,000 cusec from 90,000 cusec. Balochistan and Sindh were already getting full share of 14,000 cusec and 3100 cusec respectively.

Irsa also allowed 2,000 cusec of water from Greater Thal Canal from Chashma-Jhelum Link canal as it forecast the present flow trends to remain generally unchanged for the next three-four days.

Kharif cropping season starts from April-June and lasts until October-December in different parts of the country. Rice, sugarcane, cotton, maize and mash are some of the key crops of the season.

Published in Dawn, June 9th, 2018

Source: News

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