LAHORE - The Lahore High Court on Wednesday termed water a matter of the survival of the country and its coming generation, in a petition filed against the loss of underground water in Pakistan.

The court also ordered to submit a recent World Bank report and apex court record in connection with water issues being faced by the country.

Justice Jawad Hassan was hearing the petition seeking the court orders to secure the underground water in Pakistan. The court issued orders for the submission of the record of the Supreme Court decisions on the water issues.

The court was told that according to the World Bank report, Pakistan loses water worth approximately 12 billion dollars each year. On the arguments advanced by the petitioner’s counsel, the bench instead of constituting a water commission will review the implementation of the Supreme Court’s orders in this respect, the bench observed.

The court also remarked that the World Bank report is in the national interest and be brought to the court’s record.

The petitioner stated that the WB report also includes recommendations to secure the precious water and improve the related administrative issues in the country.

The petitioner submitted that an order be made to ensure security of water and steps to supply clean water to the citizens. The court adjourned hearing till February 8.

The apex court in its landmark decision last month had imposed a levy of Re 1 for every litre of groundwater extracted by companies selling bottled water and and beverages.

Former Supreme Court chief justice Saqib Nisar had taken a suo motu notice against the sale of water extracted from underground sources without any charge as well as regading the quality and fitness of the water extracted from earth for human consumption.

The judgement that was authored by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar says the revenue collected from the water companies shall be used for construction of the Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand dams.

It also requires the provincial governments as well as the Islamabad Capital Territory administration to establish separate and distinct accounts to receive the amounts collected under the water charges.

The Supreme Court also formed a special committee to devise a mechanism for calculation, collection and monitoring of the recovery of water charges from the industries using surface or groundwater including energy sector, textiles, garments, tanneries, pulp, paper, cement, sugar, ethanol refineries, petroleum refineries industries and fertilisers.

On the other side, the the World Bank report says Pakistan says that the best use of water endowment was not being made in Pakistan, observing that it gets a poor economic return from its significant water resources.

The report titled “Pakistan Getting More from Water” further says, “The economic costs from poor water and sanitation, floods and droughts are conservatively estimated to be four per cent of the GDP, or around $12 billion per year. These costs are dominated by the costs of poor water supply and sanitation.”

It adds Pakistan does not make the best use of its water endowment and the water use is heavily dominated by agriculture, which contributes around one-fifth of the national GDP, but less than half of this is from irrigated cropping. Irrigation contributes around $22 billion to annual GDP.