Pakistan at the Rim of Water dearth

By: Naseebullah Achakzai

Ravaging is knocking at our doors. The storm is striking every single dweller together with flora and fauna of the state and will continue if coherent expedients are not taken. The reports within the state and the UNDP, posture grave future of water paucity in Pakistan. The UNDP has alarmed that by 2025 Pakistan will be a water scarce country where per capita water will further diminish to 867 MAF. The reports also alarm that Quetta may face zero hour by 2025. Putting aside all differences, the issue needs to be tackle with combine efforts by allocating ample budget in the PSDP, considering and espousing the national water policy of the previous government.

Innumerous challenging issues such as the scarcity of dams with special reference to water storage capacity, climate change, management,  underground water depletion,  aggressive water extraction by tube wells, and Indian water terrorism need to be grappled with holistically.

Comparatively, the water storage capacity in Pakistan is very much less as compared to the world. we store only 10 percent of water whereas most of the countries store 40 percent. The rationale behind this is the inadequateness of dams. We have 68 dams (with the storage capacity of 14 MAF water) in the country, whereas India has built 4700 plus dams (with a storage of 267 MAF water). The situation is more depressing, when it comes to the water reserving capacity, as we can reserve water for only 35 to 40 days, on the flip side, the majority of countries in the can reserve it for 400 days.

One of the main accounts of the extremity of blue gold is mismanagement on the part of the government. Until and unless sensible governance is administered, the situation cannot be eclipsed. The unrestricted and unchecked Tube wells all over the country have been extricating water bitterly, which has fallen down the water level from 200 to 300 feet. Notwithstanding, 45 percent of water that is diverted for irrigation is wasted due to seepage in Canal, which further affects the agriculture sector that used 90 percent of the total water available in the country. Sooner or later, the government has to manage and record the water in the country through vigilance governance and declaring water meters compulsory across the country. It is estimated that only 3 percent of the water has been recorded in the province of Balochistan while the situation concerning this on the rest of the country is equal to none. In addition to that, the aftereffects of the NRW (Non-Revenue Water) are gruelling. Ample water is dissipated on account of overflow, error in the billing system, loses, leakage, tanks overflow, unauthorized consumption, and theft during the distribution networks to the consumers.

Climate Change followed by Indian water grudge have been the matter of life and death for the dwellers of the country. As per the report of the UNDP, Pakistan is the fifth most vulnerable country to climate change. Climate change will increase the demand for water in the country between 5 to 15 percent which will provide fuel to the already pathetic agricultural sector. Moreover, the agriculture sector in the country is entirely dependent on the waters of the Indus rivers, which will also have aftermaths on the Indus rives system due to rise in temperature and lack of Snow and rain in the Himalayan region, due to changes in hydrological in the region.  On one side, where the climate change will affect the Indus and other rivers originated from Himalayan region, on the flip side, the Indian water terrorism and its cold start doctrine have been further providing death blow to the already diminishing water of Pakistan, by building dams and diverting the waters of Pakistan from the three Eastern rivers which were accepted the property of Pakistan in the IWT (Indus Water Treaty).

Although according to Dr. Shahbaz Khan the director of the regional bureau for science in Asia and the Pacific that we are more than 20 years later in the steps we are taking now to conserve water. Better late than never, we still have time in combating the scarcity of water. Better crops, Soil, water management, encountering Indian water terrorism, constructing dams, enhancing groundwater storage, promoting behavioral change by awareness among the masses and promotion of sustainable consumption, taking steps in the creation of a culture of reuse of wastewater, and battling climate change, will ultimately help us in solving water extremity. For that, all stakeholders need to set aside all the differences in the implementation of the water policy of 2018, (with impending if needed). The government should do no compromise on one of its points which provides that the government will spend 20 percent of PSDP every year on water_related until 2030.

If the issue of water scarceness is not handled with enthusiasm and priority basis, it is feared that every single citizen will face the thirst like Rango, (who was the leading role in the film Ringo, which was aired in 2009, who was traipsing in the search of a drop of water to quench the thirst).

The writer is a Freelance columnist. He tweets at @Naseebk95976870