Punjab and Sindh Provinces Disagree Over Water Flows

IRSA Asked To Investigate

11 Feb 2022 by The Water Diplomat

The Director of Water Regulation for Punjab Irrigation Department in Pakistan has requested the Indus River System Authority (IRSA) to investigate water losses being reported by the Sindh Irrigation Department.

The letter refers to ‘exceptional losses in Sindh reaches’ of the Indus River and claims that Sindh province is underreporting inflows at Guddu barrage, located just inside the province downstream of Punjab. Sindh province is reportedly claiming to have measured 60% water losses at Guddu barrage compared to the outflows measured upstream at Taunsa and Panjnad barrages. 

These losses contrast with an estimate by IRSA of 10% conveyance losses for the same stretch of the river. Available data from IRSA shows that Sindh province reported an average loss of 35.15% during the first three weeks of January, fluctuating between 6% and 63% loss in the same period. Reported losses in the November – December period were in the same order of magnitude, as against losses of less than 10% reported by Punjab Province. 

In June 2021, Sindh Province had refused to allow Federal inspectors to visit Guddu barrage to inspect the water measurement mechanism and determine actual flows and losses along that section of the river. Sindh Province had argued that the resolution of water disputes was not up to the federal ministry of water resources but rather falls under the authority of IRSA. 

An accord was reached in 1991 between the Provinces of Pakistan on the use and allocation of water of the Indus Basin, but this accord is a consensus document rather than an Act of Parliament. IRSA by contrast was established in 1992 by an act of parliament and has representation from Pakistan’s four Provinces.