IRSA to cut water supply to provinces from December 25 

Disruption due to the annual canal maintenance and de-silting

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ISLAMABAD: Electricity load shedding might increase amid chilling weather as the Indus River System Authority (IRSA) has decided in consultation with the provinces to reduce water supply for annual maintenance and de-silting of the canals to be started from December 25.

A spokesman of IRSA informed on Friday that water releases have been reduced from Tarbela and Mangla Dams with immediate effect due to annual canal closure. He said Tarbela outflows reduced to 8000 Cusecs from 18000 Cusecs. Similarly, Mangla outflow reduced to 10000 Cusecs from 15000 Cusecs and will further reduce to 5000 Cusecs from December 25, 2017. He also said that Sindh has reduced its indent to 10,000 Cusecs from 20,000 Cusecs from December 25, 2017, while Punjab indent reduced to 25000 Cusecs from 40,000 Cusecs immediately and Balochistan reduced to 2500 Cusecs from 5000 Cusecs. Also, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will draw same 3000 Cusecs.

Sources in power sector said that the annual canal closure programme will reduce the output of hydropower units of Tarbela and Mangla by more than 2,000 MW, resulting in increased load shedding amid extreme winter across the country. They also said that though a campaign is launched every year for the maintenance and de-silting of canals by the provincial irrigation departments, however, it has been observed that nominal repair and de-silting is done by the department as water losses other than theft go unchecked for a long time. Local farmers and landlords from the command areas of a canal should be made bound or motivated to play role in the canal maintenance and de-silting work because without their participation, it is not done properly, they added.

Official sources informed Pakistan Today that IRSA has notified the annual canal closure plan, under which canals would remain closed from December 26, 2017, to January 30, 2018, for maintenance and de-silting. They said that the Mangla command canals would be closed from December 26 till January 30 stage wise and Tarbela command canals would remain closed from December 31, 2017, to January 30, 2018. According to the water discharge plan, the authority will release 10,000 to 12,000 cusecs of water from Tarbela Dam and 8,000 cusecs from Mangla Dam to meet drinking water requirements, they added.

Under the canal closure programme, Punjab’s lower Jhelum, Rasul Qadirabad Link, Upper Chenab canal will remain closed from December 26 to January 12, while Qadirabad Baloki Link, Jhang Branch, central Bari Doab canals from December 27 to January 13 and Lower Bari Doab, Baloki, Sulemanki Link from December 29 to January 15.

Also, Upper Pakpattan canal and Eastern Siddiqi canal will remain closed from December 30 to January 16, while Upper Jhelum canal from January 12 to January 29 and Lower Chenab canal (except Jhang branch), Upper Bahwal canal from January 13 to January 30. Similarly, Jhang Branch canal will remain closed from December 27, 2017, to January 13, 2018, while Upper Bahawal will remain closed from January 13, 2018, to January 30, 2018.

Likewise, Tarbela command canals will remain closed during Rabi season 2017/18. As per programme, Thal and Lower Bahawal canals will be closed from January 13 until January 30, 2018, while Trimmu canal and Trimmu Sidhnai will remain closed from January 10 to January 27, while SMB Link canal and Sidhnai canal from January 11 to January 28, Lower Pakpattan canal from January 12 to January 29, and Lower Bahawal from January 13 to January 30.

Thal canal will be closed from January 13 to January 30 and the Punjnad canal to be closed from January 5 to January 22 and Taunsa canals from December 31 to January 17. Sindh’s Kotri barrage will remain closed from December 26 to January 11 and Sukkur barrage from January 6 to January 24.

During this period, canals in Balochistan will also remain closed, while Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Chashma Right Bank canal will stay closed from January 1 to January 31.

The sources said that the Irrigation Department of Punjab government had communicated to the water regulator to reduce outflows from Mangla Dam beginning December 26. And, therefore, discharges from Mangla and Tarbela will be reduced, they added.

Available copy of Punjab Irrigation Department further confirmed the schedule of the closure of canals during Rabi season 2017/18 to be started in the province from December 26 to January 30, 2018. All superintendent engineers and executive engineers (open canals), Punjab has been advised to notify the closure dates in the Gazette for information of the public.

Likewise, Irrigation Department of Sindh has communicated the programme of the closure of Sukkur Barrage canals for the year 2017-18 with the chief engineer, asking him to issue a notification in this regard.  The Sukkur Barrage canals will remain closed from January 6, 2018, to January 20, 2018, said a copy of the letter issued by Sindh Irrigation Department.  More, an Executive Engineer of Kotri Barrage has issued notification for the annual closure of Kotri Barrage Head Works for the year 2017-18.

The Gates of Barrage will be raised gradually from 12:00 id night between December 25 and 26, 2017 and will be lowered again from 12:00 mid-night between January 10 and 11, 2018. For this period there will be no flow of water in any off-taking canal i-e Akram Wah (lined channel), Old Fuleli (Pinyari), New Fuleli, K.B. Feeder,” said the notification.

Kotri Barrage’s notification also informed the zamindars/cultivators and all concerned that Kotri Barrage canals will remain closed with effect from December 25, 2017, to January 10, 2018 (both days inclusive) for the purpose of normal inspection, maintenance and necessary repairs of the masonry structure and emergent work on canals.