The water shortage for the Rabi season may reach to 19-20 percent against the anticipated shortage of 14 percent announced by Indus River System Authority (IRSA) earlier this month.

“Earlier IRSA was expecting high flows in River Kabul and Indus for Rabi season but unexpectedly the rivers are receiving low flows and resultantly the authority have to increase the anticipated water shortage from 14 to 19-20 percent,” an official source told The Nation here on Tuesday.

“Indus River System Authority (IRSA) is also pondering to write a letter to the provinces and will ask them to make their contingency plans in face of new anticipated water shortage,” the source in the water authority informed.

Though Irsa’s advisory committee had approved the water distribution plan for all the four provinces while taking into account 14pc water shortage but now the situation has changed and the shortage may be 19 to 20 percent, said the sources.

In its meeting, held on September 30, IRSA advisory committee has announced 14 per cent water shortage for the Rabi season. It was projected, in September, that the water availability in Rabi will be 31.70 MAF of which the share of Punjab will be 17.08 MAF, Sindh 12.90 MAF, KPK 0.7 MAF and Balochistan 1.02 MAF.

Now the situation has changed and the provinces should be ready for more shortage due to reduced flow in rivers, the source warned. Since Balochistan and KP were exempt from cuts in water share, the available water would be shared between Sindh and Punjab keeping in view the 19-20 percent loss, source said.

Indus River System Authority (Irsa) had time and again asked the government to build new water reservoirs on an urgent basis to avoid losses of billions of rupees annually.

According to IRSA estimates Pakistan incurred over Rs2 trillion economic losses in the recent Kharif season in the absence of dams and water storage capacity.

About 36 MAF water had gone into the sea during Kharif season and estimated economic cost of one million acres feet (MAF) of water is around Rs60 to 70 billion.