LAHORE - Despite having abandoned water resources, with water flowing down the Himalayas and Karakorum heights, from the world’s largest glaciers but badly failing in building major water reservoirs including the most feasible Kalabagh Dam, the world water day had been observed with fears and hopes across the country on Saturday.
Experts say the country is losing seven per cent water resources for irrigation purposes every year. Besides that there are four millions hectors lands having no irrigation system and around nine million is totally barren while millions of people live with no access to drinking water.
Minister for Planning and Development Engineer Ahsan Iqbal has recently said that the water issue is the biggest issue of the country, but no major event had been organised by the government side to create awareness among people for efficient use of water or to understand and preach serious concern of water scarcity.
In Lahore, two separate seminars had been organised by Pakistan Engineering Congress (PEC) and Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf in connection with the World Water Day. There are reports of some events in other cities by non-government organisation to create awarness for water use.
A government official talking to The Nation said that gross negligence in development and mismanagement of water resources is the main reason behind the water shortage which was increasing day by day
“The average annual inflow of the Indus and its tributaries is i41.67 maf, of which 97 per cent is used in agriculture and the remaining 3 per cent 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 network, more than 50 per cent is lost during changeling and field application before it reaches the crop root zone,” he informed.
Another expert Professor Dr Iqbal opined that Kalabagh Dam was the solution of country’s water and power crises. He suggested that if talks with Taliban are possible then why not with the opponents of the Kalabagh dam.
“There’s no time to waste in talks rather to be practical to secure the water of the country,” he emphasised on rulers, adding that appeasement with India should be conditional. On Water Day, the experts viewed that the KBD had been baselessly politicised on unfounded grounds. They stressed that it was a time to set personal motivations aside and look forward to saving the country’s interest.
Speaking at the IEP function, Irrigation minister Mian Yawar Zaman dispelled the impression that India is involved in water theft. He held that neighbouring country was building power generation plants on the run of the river instead of constructing water storage dams.
“Capacity of Renala power plant in Okara will be upgraded from 1 MW to 4 MW,” he said, adding the provincial government was working on six power generation projects on different canals. He said that Pakistan faces the problem of water shortage and to increase the water storage capacity government is working on Bhasha Dam and Dasu Dam.
Minister also said that disaster of water and energy shortage that we have been facing over the years is not natural but it is the result of ill planning and short-sightedness. He said that world is not using fresh water for its socio-economic development but also started using the waste water in agricultural production and other uses. Even the rain water is being harvested on a large scale.