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Water Crisis in Pakistan

By Aman Hashmi

Water is the most valuable resource on Earth because without it ,almost nothing can survive, All plants and animals on land need freshwater to survive Yet few of us stop to wonder where water comes from or what would happen if it stopped gushing out of our taps-or pouring into our takes and reservoirs. To understand how important water is, we need to know how our planet supplies us with fresh, free water through a natural cycle. Although we can survive a month or more without food, our bodies can not function for more then a week without water. More than 97% of Earth s water is salty seawater, which is useless for drinking or growing crops. Two percent is frozen in ice caps and glaciers, or is too far understand to reach. This leaves less than 0.5 % of the world’s water available to us. This water is found in lakes, rivers, and groundwater.
God has blessed Pakistan with abandoned water resources, with water flowing down the Himalayas and Karakorum heights, from the world’s largest glaciers, a free and unique bounty of nature for this land of alluvial plains. But as we all know that now a days our country is facing severe shortage of water. Pakistan has the world’s fourth highest rate of water use. Its water intensity rate – the amount of water, in cubic meters, used per unit of GDP – is the world’s highest. This suggests that no country’s economy is more water-intensive than Pakistan’s. There are two main reasons, one natural due to prolong drought—which is beyond the control of a man, and the other due to the gross negligence in the development and mis-management of water resources. In fact, Pakistan has gone backwards in the last 30 years because of the failure of our governance system and feeble policies of the government. There are forces at work to make the Kalabagh Dam project controversial and prevent it from being constructed as it could make Pakistan a powerful agricultural power. The cheap electricity produced through it would also jump start the country’s dying industry and enable establishment of industrial clusters all along the CPEC route.Overpopulation also plays a big part in Pakistan s water problems. City population grow twice as fast as those in villages and high density living uses more water. Places with limited water resources become water stressed as water is lost or wasted. This leads to drouts, economic problems and even conflict . On farms unused water evaporates from irrigation channels. While discussing the UNDP report “Development Advocate Pakistan,” Shamsul Mulk, former chairman of the Water and Power Development Authority, said that water policy is simply non-existent in Pakistan. Policymakers act like “absentee landlords” of water, “Because of this absentee landlordism, water has become the property of the landlords and the poor are deprived of their share, The political implications of the crisis have yet to be determined, but we can expect that if nothing is done and the situation gets worse, pressure on the political leadership will intensify. In the years ahead, this could lead to unrest-
The major threat that Pakistan faces today is not Islamist terrorism but water scarcity. While the former makes headlines all over the world, the latter is an issue that is hardly discussed in the national and international media or by policymakers. But a recent UNDP draft report on the water crisis in Pakistan sheds light on a serious, albeit much-neglected, conflict the South Asian country is grappling with. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Pakistan is already the third most water-stressed country in the world. Its per capita annual water availability is 1,017 cubic meters – perilously close to the scarcity threshold of 1,000 cubic meters. Back in 2009, Pakistan’s water availability was about 1,500 cubic meters. The average annual inflow of the Indus and its tributaries is i41.67 maf, of which 97% is used in agriculture and the remaining 3% for domestic and Industrial purposes. Out of 141.67 maf, around 106 maf is annually diverted in to one of the largest but in-efficient irrigation system. The remaining 36 maf goes into the sea unused – a total loss –. Out of 106 maf, diverted into an extensive irrigation net work, more than 50% is lost during the changeling and the field application before it reaches the crop root zone. As we use up more of our limited freshwater supplies. We are also polluting much of water is left. Our cities , farmers, factories and power stations release millions of tons of sewage and toxic waste into river systems each year. This has overwhelmad the natural abilities of rivers to mix and breakdown pollutants, and has left more then half the world s rivers so polluted that they now pose serious risk to health. As a result of this natural resource, today we have the world’s marvelous and the largest irrigation system that irrigates over 16 million hectors of land, out of 34 million hectors of cultivable land available. Basically we have two major sources of water i.e. surface water & ground water.
According to the media, India has ventured upon an ambitious plan worth $120 billion to divert water of the Pakistani rivers. The government should start the construction of dams and provide secure water for irrigation and domestic use. In the monsoon season in 8% plants will be cultivated but that is without irrigation. Pakistan is expected to face shortage of 31 million acre feet MAF of water by 2025 which would pose a grave threat to Pakistan’s economy and stability. Indian plan to build a dam on Wulur lake would affect the flow of water in Pakistan. In addition to the construction of the Kalabagh Dam, we must complete the Bhasha Dam and construct hundreds of smaller dams all along our rivers. A clear water policy is needed along with a government that is determined to implement it. Where are the resources to build these dams? The cost of construction and waterways should be deducted from the funds being passed on to the provinces under the 7th NFC Award, and the 18th Amendment for after all it is the provinces that will benefit from these dams. In order to deal with the scarcity of water in future the Supreme Court can play a decisive role; Firstly, the land on which the Kalabagh Dam will be built will no longer be a part of Punjab but be legally owned by all the four provinces; secondly, the control over flow of water would be vested with all the four provinces and not with Punjab alone; and finally not more than 30 percent of water or electricity from the dam will go to Punjab for the next 50 years, till a new formula is reached by mutual agreement.

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