Marred by unusual low inflows in summer months, Tarbela Dam on Indus River may hit rock bottom early next week, further worsening the water shortage in the plains.
Given the present pattern of low flows into Indus River, it is feared that the water level at Tarbela Dam may attain dead level by May 25, 2022. Such an eventuality will further squeeze flows downstream and curtailing drinking water supplies, further adversely affecting the standing crops as well.
This year, on March 20, 2022, water storage in the Tarbela Dam also reduced to its minimum level, resulting in a massive reduction in irrigation supplies and hydel power generation amid long hours of loadshedding.
The present downward trend in river flows spells disaster for agriculture sector as it is already reeling under unprecedented heatwave, causing abiotic stress to plants. According to the WAPDA report, the river inflows and outflows at Tarbela, Mangla and Chashma, along with the reservoirs levels and the barrages on May 22, 2022, was recorded as: Indus inflow at Tarbela, 82,800 cusecs and outflow, 95,000 cusecs; Kabul inflow at Nowshera, 28,700 cusecs and outflow, 28,700 cusecs; Jhelum inflow at Mangla, 36,100 cusecs and outflow, 33,800 cusecs;Chenab inflow at Marala, 31,400 cusecs and outflow, 21,400 cusecs.
In addition, the inflow and outflow situation at barrages was observed as: Jinnah inflow, 107,100 cusecs and outflow, 99,600 cusecs, Chashma inflow, 120,600 cusecs and outflow, 115,000 cusecs, Taunsa inflow, 113,200 cusecs and outflow, 89,100 cusecs, Panjnad inflow 11,600 cusecs and outflow Nil cusecs, Guddu inflow, 66,900 cusecs and outflow, 62,300 cusecs, Sukkur inflow, 44,400 cusecs and outflow, 16,500 cusecs, Kotri inflow, 7,200 cusecs and outflow, 100 cusecs.
Reservoirs (Level and Storage): Tarbela minimum operating level, 1,392 feet, present level, 1400 feet, maximum conservation level, 1,550 feet, live storage on Sunday 0.059 million acre feet (MAF). Mangla minimum operating level, 1,050 feet, present level, 1,085 feet, maximum conservation level, 1,242 feet, live storage on Sunday 0.185 MAF.