In March 1991 the Water Apportionment Accord (WAA) was signed among the provinces to distribute the Indus River waters among them and command areas. It established the water rights among the provinces and protected future water rights, including the effect of future storages. The WAA recognizes the need for certain minimum escapages to the Sea below Kotri Barrage. To this effect, the Para-7 of the WAA says:
“the need for certain minimum escapage to sea, below Kotri, to check sea intrusion was recognized. Sindh held the view, that the optimum level was 10MAF, which was discussed at length, while other studies indicated lower/higher figures. It was, therefore, decided that further studies would be undertaken to establish the minimal escapage needs downstream Kotri”.
In the above context, three studies were conducted to reach consensus on the minimum required escapages below Kotri Barrage. Gist of these studies is at Annexure-I and these are;
Study 1: Water escapages below Kotri Barrage to check seawater intrusion;
Study II: Water escapages downstream of the Kotri Barrage to address environmental concerns;
Study III: Environmental concerns of all the four provinces.
The main objective of Study-I was to determine, the minimum quantity of the Indus River water that needs to pass below Kotri Barrage to control seawater intrusion at desirable level, and to suggest alternative measures to alleviate adverse impacts. Main purpose of Study-II was to investigate and address environmental impacts from river water and sediment flows and their seasonal distribution below Kotri Barrage (forest, mangrove forests, fisheries, riverine agriculture, population, flora and fauna, seawater intrusion), identify mitigation measures and evaluate tradeoffs. And the Study-III was carried out to identify and address environmental concerns of all four provinces and need to address a wide range of issues related to the management of water resources in the Indus Basin upstream of Kotri Barrage.
In order to have an independent external review of the studies, an International Panel of Experts (IPOE) was appointed. The IPOE took good note of the historical developments and the WAA, especially of para 7 on ‘the need for certain minimum escapages to the sea, below Kotri, to check sea intrusion’. The IPOE reviewed the studies at relevant stages, had in depth discussions with government staff at Federal and Provincial level, as well as with the consultants, and analysed it as per international experiences and practices. The IPOE suggested release of certain minimum flows downstream of Kotri Barrage throughout the year, supplemented by short duration peak flows.
Chief Engineering Adviser/Chairman Federal Flood Commission, Building No. 6, Ataturk Avenue, Sector G-5/1, Islamabad.
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