ISLAMABAD - The Mangla Dam reservoir has officially lost 10 feet water storage as Indus River System Authority (Irsa) has allowed increasing its minimum operating level (MOL) to 1,050 feet against the existing 1040 feet.

The Irsa also conditionally allowed further raising the Mangla reservoir’s minimum operating level to 1,055 Ft SPD after two years, said official documents. According to the documents, the decision was taken at a meeting held last week with Irsa Chairman Sherzaman Khan in the chair. The meeting was attended by Sindh Member Mazhar Ali Shah, KP Member Raqib Khan and Irsa Director Operations Khalid Rana.

The matter pertaining to the raising of MOL of Mangla was discussed in detail in the light of the working paper submitted by Wapda. In September, Wapda proposed increase in the minimum operating level of Tarbela Dam to 1,386 feet from the existing 1,380 feet and that of Mangla Dam to 1,062 feet from the existing 1,040 feet. According to the Wapda, silting has reduced the storage capacity of Tarbela and Mangla reservoirs. It has proposed increase in the MOL of Tarbela Dam to 1,386 feet instead of 1380 feet and that of Mangla Dam to 1,062 feet against the existing 1,040 feet. The Irsa has proposed that a further study should be carried out to firm up the data.

However, in the light of the recommendations given by the Wapda, the Irsa allowed the Mangla Reservoir’s minimum operating level (MOL) to be raised to 1,050 Ft SPD. It was also decided further increase in the MOL to 1,055 Ft SPD after two years for 1,055 ft SPD.

Tarbela Dam is also losing its storage capacity. According to the Irsa, the storage capacity of Tarbela has dropped to 5.6MAF from 6MAF and it was required under para-6 of the water accord to build dams wherever possible. The Irsa fully endorsed the off-channel storages like Rohtas Dam and simultaneously recommended that all feasible water storages on the Indus Basin may be constructed on war-footing basis to overcome water shortage in the country.

The second agenda item was the closure of Chashma Barrage. According to the document, after detailed deliberations and in the light of the Chashma Barrage chief engineer’s viewpoint, it was decided with consensus to allow the extended annual closure of the barrage. The closure period will start from December 27, 2017, and continue till January 27, 2018. The maximum outflow up to 25,000 cusecs from December 27, 2017, to January 15, 2018, and from January 16 to January 27, 2017, it will be up to 30,000 cusecs. Similarly, the maximum pond level of Chashma will be 638.15 ft to 642ft SPD.

It was further decided that in case of any eventuality, the excessive releases may be diverted/routed through CJ Link Canal.