ISLAMABAD, Feb 28: The Indus River System Authority (Irsa) has sought Asian Development Bank’s help to ascertain water losses in Pakistan’s irrigation system and a new computerised system for regulating provincial water shares, it is learnt.
Informed sources told Dawn on Wednesday that the ministry of water and power and Irsa had held a few meetings with ADB experts recently to finalise a set of projects to strengthen Irsa and its regulatory system. These projects will be funded by the ADB under its $400 million water sector development programme during the current year.
The government has requested the ADB to conduct a study on Pakistan’s overall water losses which are considered very high and sometimes cross 40 per cent in Sindh. The provinces have been blaming each other for water theft because of these losses.
A couple of months ago, an Irsa investigation team had reached a conclusion that a countrywide study should be conducted to ascertain actual losses in rivers and canals.
The study would determine causes of water losses and their quantum and then suggest how to reduce these losses to a reasonable level as the country is heading for acute water shortage.
The government has decided to appoint an independent consultant to identify faults in the Rs350 million telemetry system which has not been able to provide accurate data on water discharge and distribution since its inception in 2003.
Water and Power Minister Liaquat Ali Jatoi has recently announced to hold contractors accountable for the faulty system after independent investigations.
Based on the final report of the international consultant, the Asian Development Bank would support the project financially and technically for an error-free telemetry system to achieve its objectives.
Irsa wants to overcome all these problems before the start of next Kharif season.
The sources said the World Bank had recommended three names of international experts for appointment as a consultant to study the existing faulty telemetry system. These names are currently under consideration. Irsa sources said the consultant was likely to start working on the study within a month.
Irsa has also requested the ADB to prepare a model that could help Irsa in determining how much water was flowing in country’s rivers on a daily basis, what is the share of each province on the basis of this availability at a given time and which province was getting what quantities on a real-time basis for better regulation and management. To be monitored from Irsa’s headquarters in Islamabad, this model would also provide updates on flood situation and water inflows in rivers.