The warning by Sindh Tas Water Council Chairman Zahoorul Hassan that the shortage of water might unleash a food crisis should give sleepless nights to the PPP leadership. He made his case on the reality that Sindh and Punjab will suffer a 21 percent water shortage in the months ahead. As things stand the shortage of water would persist, rather aggravate with each passing day, given the fact that Tarbela Dam has already reached its dead level. A report in this paper reveals that while its capacity has been limited to 30 percent, that of Mangla Dam has reduced to a paltry 15 percent.

Not long ago, Pakistan was considered among the countries with the best canal and river system. However, the failure to build large water reservoirs has severely affected the canal irrigation system. Experts also agree on the need for dams because a lot more water for instance flows down the sea than what is required for the preservation of mangroves and preventing intrusion of sea. The only course open to us to store it in reservoirs to sustain agriculture and meet other needs. What has simply added fuel to the fire is India’s blockade of Indus rivers through a number of dams built in violation of the Indus Water Basins Treaty. The government did file a complaint with the World Bank but our Water Commissioner allegedly fought the case in a way as if he was giving the Indians a seal of approval for more construction work. Our farming community is pushed to the edge owing to yearly losses. The growing shortage of water is destroying crops on millions of acres of land each year. The threat to the very livelihood of the farmers has set in a trend of rural to urban migration. It is not hard to understand their suffering since they are simultaneously crippled by high prices of the inputs like fertilizer and diesel. Under circumstances of the sort, there should be no two opinions that neither they nor agriculture can survive much longer. And also one should not doubt that in near future India’s construction of illegal dams coupled with our callousness by not building water reservoirs can result in a famine.

Now that Tarbela Dam has reached its dead level prompting experts to warn of an impending food crisis, the government ought to realise that the country’s agriculture’s survival can only be assured with the construction of large dams. We should take a cue from the electricity crisis also that was deliberately downplayed but now has become one of the biggest scourges to hit the country. In our mutual squabbling over the lifeline project of Kalabagh Dam, we are inviting a doomsday scenario.