I have just received a book which is no less than a ‘Bible’ on the subject of rivers, dams and barrages of Pakistan. The author of the book B A Malik Chief Technical Advisor WB & UNO, has vast experience of the water infrastructure of the country, spread over many decades. Needles to say that the book tells us in great detail all that needs to be known about the importance of rivers, dams and barrages of Pakistan, on most of which the author has had hands-down experience of designing and execution.

Along with the wealth of information on the existing projects there is much information on future projects including mega dams proposed to be built in the coming years, notable among them being Kalabagh dam, the apprehensions of Sindh and KPK about which have also been quite effectively addressed. But the author’s main thrust is on ‘Save Water Save Pakistan’ which is the title of the book and also the message of the book. He warns that by the time Pakistan celebrates its first centenary it would be rich in people but poor in water. What to speak of 2047, there may not be enough in Pakistan’s water kitty to cater for 221 million people even by 2025. We may survive loadshedding albeit emotionally exhausted and economically crippled, but not food-shedding.

He quotes a 2006 World Bank report which says that Pakistan is fast sprinting from a ‘water stressed’ country to becoming a ‘water scarce’ country and within a decade a ‘water famine’ country. But unfortunately, he laments, the development of water and power resources is being held hostage to regional politics. When we had no country we were one nation, now we have a country but we are not one nation. He has chalked out a very elaborate priority action plan of which the bare outlines are - human demand management through population control, irrigation demand management through better farming, surplus water conservation through more reservoirs, and lastly the all important implementation framework.

There are many surprises in the book which can only be hinted at for the present. Gen Jillani did not order the Chashma-Jhelum link canal to be made perennial, it was PM Junejo who did it. World Bank wanted to build Kalabagh dam instead of Tarbela dam, it was 10 Wapda engineers (including the author) who got the decision reversed in the national interest. It is not possible to do full justice here to a 256 page book full of facts and figures, tables and graphs and a lot more which can only be copied a little at a time for those who have not given up the fight yet.


Lahore, March 22.