ISLAMABAD: Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) Saturday called upon the government to focus on the urgent construction of water reservoirs in the country to ensure overcoming water shortage and achieving sustainable economic growth.

“Being an agriculture economy, Pakistan is heavily dependent on water resources, but according to a recent report of International Monetary Fund (IMF), Pakistan is third among the countries facing rising water shortage, which should be a cause of concern for policymakers,” ICCI President Sheikh Amir Waheed said in a statement issued here.

He said the rising water crisis could jeopardize the economic future of the country. He said in 1951, per capita water availability in Pakistan was 5,260 cubic meter that had come down to 940 cubic metres in 2015.

“If no urgent measures are taken for water reservoirs, per capita water availability would further reduce to 860 cubic metres by 2025 in Pakistan that is alarming,” he warned.

Sheikh Amir Waheed said according to a WAPDA’s report, due to lack of water reservoirs, Pakistan was wasting water worth Rs25 billion every year.

He said Pakistani rivers were receiving an 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 waste.

He said 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 had built over 87,000 dams while India had built around 3,200 dams, but Pakistan had 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 the urgent basis, the economic growth of the country would badly suffer.

He said the government was spending just seven 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.

ICCI Senior Vice President Muhammad Naveed said the Council of Common Interest (CCI) in its last meeting had agreed to adopt the National Water Policy and urged the federal and provincial governments to take urgent measures 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.