LAHORE - The Pakistan Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) Tuesday organised a ceremony at its headquarters to celebrate the World Water Day.

WAPDA Zafar Mahmood, speaking on occasion, highlighted the significance of water for life. He said that besides enhancing water storage capacity in Pakistan, the culture of water conservation in all walks of life will have to be adopted to avoid water scarcity in the country. “All stakeholders, intellectuals and media in particular, will have to play their role to promote a culture of water conservation through its prudent use,” he added. He said that rapid growth in our population has been adversely impacting per capita availability of water in Pakistan, adding that per capita availability of water which used to be 8182 cubic meter in 1947, has decreased to an alarming level of 1032 cubic meter in 2016, turning Pakistan into a water stressed country. He further said that if population growth remains unchecked and water reservoirs are not constructed, the Pakistan will become a water starved country.

Wapda chairman said that annual river flows in Pakistan stand at about 145 million acre feet on the average, of which 80% is available in 100 days from April to August. This erratic pattern of river flows necessitates construction of more dams so that water could be made available throughout the year, he added. He apprised the audience that Pakistan has only 10 percent storage capacity of the annual water flows against the world average of 40 percent. This carry over facility is sufficient only for 30 days.

Emphasizing upon the need for water pricing, he said that monetary value will have to be added to water to check wastage of water. He further said that as many as 10 MAF of water can be saved by lining the canals located in saline areas. Together with conserving water through this sort of measures and constructing more water reservoirs, we can bring about 20 million acres of more land under plough. He also highlighted other challenges faced by the water sector including level of aquifer and deterioration of its quality, absence of regulation for extracting ground water, low water charges, high delta crops, cropping pattern and low productivity of water.

Later, WAPDA Member (Water) Muhammad Shoaib Iqbal, Member (Power) Badr-ul-Munir Murtiza and Member (Finance) Anwar-ul-Haq apprised the audience about water sector, hydropower sector and financial strategies for WAPDA projects respectively. University of Agriculture Faisalabad Vice Chancellor Dr. Iqrar spoke of need to introduce technology for future water requirements. Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) Dr. Abu Bakr Muhammad highlighted the importance of building smart water grid for Indus Basin in Pakistan, while WAPDA Advisor Abdul Khaliq Khan briefed the audience about initiatives for water security.

Writers namely Munnoo Bhai, Asghar Nadeem Syed, Wasif Nagi, Munir Baloch, Tahir Sarwar Mir and Sughra Sadaf, in their brief deliberations, underlined the need to conserve water.

Later, cash prizes and certificates were presented to the winners of poetry, essay-writing and poster-making competitions, organised by WAPDA about water conservation.

FPCCI for conservation measures

The Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) on Tuesday expressed grave concern over depletion of water resources, terming it the greatest threat to the survival of country.

Water scarcity is emerging as biggest threat to Pakistan which will lay waste to fertile lands and damaging industry resulting in devastating security situation, said Abdul Rauf Alam, President FPCCI.

Pakistan depends heavily on annual glacier melts and monsoon rains. Water from these sources flows down the rivers and out to the sea. These glaciers are melting due to climate change while rivers are drying leaving many to rely on ground water which has been reducing the water table. Pakistan is already a water-scarce country therefore Government should immediately move to settle disputes over dams without which future of the country seems bleak as demand and supply gap for water has reached alarming levels, he added.