ISLAMABAD - Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry president Sheikh Amir Waheed has called upon the government to focus on urgent construction of water reservoirs in the country to ensure achieving sustainable economic growth.

He said being an agriculture economy, Pakistan was heavily dependent on water resources, but according to a recent report of IMF, Pakistan was 3rd among the countries facing rising water shortage, which should be a cause of concern for policymakers.

In a press statement, he said the rising water crisis could jeopardise the economic future of the country. He said in 1951, per capita water availability in Pakistan was 5260 cubic meter that had come down to 940 cubic meter in 2015. He said if no urgent measures were taken for water reservoirs, per capita water availability would further reduce to 860 cubic meter by 2025 in Pakistan that was an alarming.

Sheikh Amir Waheed said that according to a WAPDA’s report, due to lack of water reservoirs, Pakistan was wasting water worth Rs.25 billion every year. He said Pakistani rivers were receiving average annual inflow of 145 million acre feet of water out of which only 14 million acre feet was preserved while the rest was going to waste. He said that during the last 70 years, only two major dams were built in Pakistan that showed that our successive governments paid no attention to build water reserves in the country. He said China has built over 87000 dams while India has built around 3200 dams, but Pakistan has built only 150 dams of 15-meter height which were insufficient to store water of required quantity.

He said the underground water tables were rapidly going down in Pakistan and if water reserves were not built on urgent basis, the economic growth of the country would badly suffer.

He said government was spending just 7 percent of development funds on water sector that was insufficient and stressed that at least 20 percent of development funds should be spent on water sector to improve water security.

Muhammad Naveed, ICCI senior vice president, and Nisar Mirza, vice president, said that the Council of Common Interests (CCI) in its last meeting had agreed to adopt the National Water Policy and stressed that urgent measures should be taken by the federal and provincial governments to achieve the targets set in the said policy for building water reserves and curbing wastage of water so that the country could achieve water security and ensure sustainable growth of the economy.