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Tensions escalate between Pakistan's Punjab

15 May 2022, 14:37 GMT+10

Karachi [Pakistan], May 14 (ANI): Acute water shortage along with a searing heatwave have sparked tensions between Sindh and Punjab in Pakistan over their share of the nation's water resources.

Life has been upturned in the desert areas of Punjab, including Cholistan, Thal and the tribal areas of Dera Ghazi Khan and Rajanpur, where people have been forced to migrate with their cattle to greener pastures and urban centres in their desperate search for water, Dawn reported.

A heatwave in the early days of May saw the mercury shoot up to 50 degrees Celsius in desert areas, compared to an average of 44 degrees Celsius over the past decade. In other regions, temperatures rose to 48 degrees Celsius compared to past records of 40 degrees Celsius in the same period, the report said.

Unlike in the past, Cholistan also received no rainfall in the months of March, April and May, leading to the eventual drying up of rainwater ponds, the report added.

Punjab's irrigation authorities blamed the Indus River System Authority (IRSA) for worsening the crisis by apportioning the province 0.4 million acre-feet (MAF) less water than its share, compared to what they believe is 0.6 MAF supplied to Sindh in excess of its share since April 16, the report said.

An official claimed that Punjab had been receiving up to 26 per cent less water than its due share between the April 16 and May 11 period. They alleged that Sindh had instead been receiving up to 77pc more than its share during the same period. However, an official from Sindh had the exact opposite to say, claiming that Sindh's share is in fact being unfairly diverted for Punjab's use.

At the same time, there is anger in Sindh as well over its due share of water not being provided to it.

"Will water supply not be ensured to us if the majority in Irsa decides against it?" Sindh Irrigation Minister Jam Khan Shoro was quoted as having asked a delegation of IRSA. "Sindh only wants its share. Distribution and shortage be managed as per the Accord," he asserted.

The delegation had travelled to Sukkur in Sindh after the National Assembly's Standing Committee on Water Resources met under Nawaz Yusuf Talpur on Wednesday and Thursday in Islamabad.

The Sindh Irrigation Department's director of regulations has written to the IRSA chairman, seeking an end to the transfer of water from the Indus River system to the Jhelum-Chenab system, which has serious consequences for Sindh, the report said.

Pakistan is estimated to be in the top 10 list of the world's countries facing water scarcity. Stressing on the cause of water issues, a UN representative cited climate change, floods, and drought as the reason. (ANI)

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