ISLAMABAD - Like other parts of the world, water scarcity is also looming large in Pakistan as since 1951, the per capita water availability has been drastically shrunken from 5,600 cubic meters to the current level of 908 cubic meters.

The data of Population Census Organisation Pakistan indicates that per capita water availability was 5,260 cubic meters in 1951, 4159 cubic meters in 1961, 2838 cubic meters in 1971, 2129 cubic meter in 1981, 1611 cubic meters in 1991, 1259 cubic meters in 2001 and 908 cubic meters in 2016.

However, the population also witnessed sharp increase during the said period and it was recorded as 34 million in 1951, 43 million in 1961, 63 million in 1971, 84 million in 1981, 111 million in 1991, 143 million in 2001 and 197 million in 2016, the data revealed.

Official sources told that around 29 million acre feet (MAF) water wasted every year in the country due to poor storage facilities and accumulation of silt in the main water reservoirs of Tarbela and Mangla.

They were of the views that only rapid increase in the population was not the sole factor of decrease in per capita water but lack of water storage capacity and conservation were also adding to this issue.

They said water scarcity already was affecting every continent.

Around 1.2 billion people, or almost one-fifth of the world's population, live in areas of physical scarcity, and 500 million people are approaching this situation.

Another 1.6 billion people, or almost one quarter of the world's population, face economic water shortage.

According to Pakistan Water Gateway, a non-governmental water-research portal, groundwater levels in the country were also dropping by a meter a year.

"If groundwater depletion continues at its current rate, the country is surely headed for widespread water poverty in next few years," it said.

"Planning for water resources development and management should be at the heart of the policy and be done in co-ordination with the cross-sector policies and projects such as agriculture, irrigation and industry sectors," it further suggested.

Cognizant of the issue, the incumbent government decided to build much awaited big water reservoirs including Diamer Basha and Mohmand dams etc from its own resources in order to increase water storage in the country.

The Mangla dam raising project and Gomal Zam dam have also been completed to store additional 2.88 MAF and 1MAF water respectively.

Meanwhile, the Indus River System Authority (IRSA)on Sunday released 312,000 cusecs water from various rim stations with inflow of 267,900 cusecs.

According to the data released by IRSA, water level in the Indus River at Tarbela Dam was 1545.35 feet, which was 165.35 feet higher than its dead level 1380 feet.

Water inflow in the dam was recorded as 157,600 cusecs while outflow 190,000 cusecs.

The water level in the Jhelum River at Mangla Dam was 1234.25 feet, which was 184.25 feet higher than its dead level of 1040 feet whereas the inflow and outflow of water was recorded as 23,300 cusecs and 35,000 cusecs respectively.

The release of water at Kalabagh, Taunsa and Sukkur was recorded as 205,200, 194,400 and 97,100 cusecs respectively.

Similarly, from the Kabul River a total of 24,600 cusecs of water was released at Nowshera and 30,700 cusecs released from the Chenab River at Marala.