There is a lot of confusion about water release below Kotri for protection of the Indus delta. Clause 7 of the Water Accord states, “The need for certain minimum water flow to sea, below the Kotri to check sea intrusion was recognised. Sindh held the view that the optimum level was 10 MAF, which was discussed at length. It was, therefore, decided that further studies would be undertaken to establish the minimal release needs for Kotri”. The federal government launched three studies in October 2004.

The first study was on water required below the Kotri to check sea intrusion. The second was on water flow required blow the Kotri to address Sindh’s environmental concerns and the third study was on environmental concerns of all four provinces. These studies were entrusted to consultancy firms of international repute. A panel consisting of Dr Fernando J Gonzalez, the ex-regional director of World Bank, Dr Thinus Basson, a professor and consultant with various US universities, and Dr Bert Schultz, a Dutch national and world renowned consultant on irrigation and drainage, conducted these studies and finalised the recommendations. The panel recommended that 5,000 cusecs per day or 3.6 million acre feet (MAF) of water annually will be required to flow below the Kotri Barrage to stop seawater intrusion, contrary to Sindh’s demand of 10 MAF annually.

The recommendation would require an additional release from storages of 1.26 maf to 2.20 maf, depending on the weather, during the low flow months of September to middle of June. This would require additional storage capacity to prevent reduction in water availability for irrigation use. This means that unless additional storage capacity is available the required release below Kotri cannot be made.

ENGR KHURSHID ANWER,

Lahore, August 26.