The water resources sector is both the lifeline and the gear of development in Pakistan. The main source of water in Pakistan is the ‘Indus River System’. Under the ‘1960 Indus Basin Treaty’ with India, Pakistan was entitled to the flow of three western rivers (Indus, Jhelum and Chenab), with occasional spills from the eastern Rivers Sutlej and Ravi diverted upstream by India. The average annual inflows of the western and eastern rivers and their tributaries at the rim stations are estimated as 142 Million Acre Feet (MAF) whereas the main Indus River dominates the flows by contributing more than 45% of these average annual flows. As per Falkenmark index, the per capita availability of surface water in Pakistan in 1951 was approximately 5260 m3 against the population of approximately 34 million. Pakistan has crossed the limit of water scarcity, that is, 1000 m3 per capita water availability in 2013. The Water Apportionment Accord (WAA) among the four provinces of Pakistan is a historic achievement that happened on March 21, 1991. Indus River System Authority (IRSA) was created through an Act of the Parliament for implementation of the Accord comprising of four provincial and one federal member.. It is however also provided that if any stakeholder is not satisfied with the decisions of IRSA it can approach the Council of Common Interests (CCI) for redressal. IRSA is serving as an effective mechanism of surface water dispute resolution. In 2003, IRSA evolved a three tier method of distribution of the available supply to resolve provincial differences regarding the mechanism of sharing shortages and surpluses. The Water Accord not only meets the existing water requirements of the Provinces but is also planned to meet the future requirements both in the Irrigation and other sectors. Implementation of the Accord during the past 25 years has created a sense of trust and cooperation between the stakeholders. At the end of analysis some recommendations have been recorded for further fine-tuning of WAA and enhancing IRSA’s institutional capability through acquisition of analytical modeling techniques for flow forecasting and system water routing, equipping river gauging network with telemetry to establish online data facility for effective system regulation and establishment of surveillance capability for system operational monitoring and control.
Keywords: Surface water distribution, river, provincial accord, water shortage/surpluses