ISLAMABAD - To permanently resolve the issues relating to water sharing among the provinces, Indus River System Authority (IRSA) will install 24 telemetry systems on Indus River, it was learnt reliably here Sunday.
The water regulatory body will also undertake water flow measurement at 17 different sites on Indus River, official sources told The Nation.
World Bank has agreed to increase the funding for both the projects from $2.5 million to $8.05 million, sources maintained. World Bank is funding Pakistan water sector through Water Sector Capacity Building & Advisory Services Project (WCAP). This project was started in 2008 and was later extended till 2021.
A meeting in this regard was held at the ministry of water and power which was attended by all the concerned departments and World Bank’s official. The meeting discussed the reallocation funding, the installation of telemetry system and flow measurement study, source maintained.
Regarding the water flow measurement study, the source informed that earlier World Bank has funded a pilot project for the flow measurement which has studied the water flow at seven places which include Chashma, Taunsa, Guddu, Marala, Garang regulator Pat feeder and CRBC. Now, it has been agreed that flow measurement will be extended to another 17 locations.
It was also agreed that new telemetry systems will also be installed on 24 different locations on Indus River, the source maintained.
It is pertinent to mention here that the earlier installed telemetry system on River Indus had failed and the federal government had to scrap it, after spending hundreds of millions of rupees in the past 13 years.
The telemetry system was installed during Musharraf regime in 2003 at a cost of Rs320 million, to electronically monitor inflows and outflows at all dams and barrages automatically for ending the differences between the provinces over the distribution of water. But, the system turned out to be faulty and thus failed to deliver the desired results. The Irsa had adopted the telemetry system on March 8, 2005 but the provinces were not ready to accept the data provided by the system as they deemed it inaccurate.
The system has electronic sensors installed at 23 barrages, dams and other discharge points which were directly linked with the computer systems of irrigation departments of the provincial governments, the Irsa and federal flood commission.
But soon after installation, the telemetry system went out of order and it was handed over to Wapda. But even Wapda failed to run it properly despite spending huge human and material resources.
In early 2016, Wapda asked Irsa to take the charge of this system which the regulatory body refused, saying it had zero productivity and was mere a burden.
The project has been costing around Rs50 million annually to the national exchequer. The government has conducted a study and the consultant advised the government to scrap the system as it can never provide accurate data.
Following the consultant’s advice last year, the federal government asked Wapda to scrap the system.
IRSA decides the release of water and the share of the federating unites, and the provinces provide the water availability figures to the regulatory body. Since there are flaws in water flow measurement formula, IRSA cannot verify the figures provided by the provincial irrigation departments.
“Flaws in the water flow measurement formula is the main reason behind the differences among the provinces,” the official said.
Now, it has been decided that the new telemetry system will be installed, which will be operated and maintained by IRSA, the official said.