By Shabbir Hussain
ISLAMABAD, Monday, November 23, 2020 (WNP/DL): Resident Representative of Hanns Seidel Foundation (HSF) Dr. Steffen Kudella Monday said Pakistan’s dependence on a single river system is extremely risky.
In order to reduce this risk, he said the country needs to fight water shortages, promote reforestation, maintain water infrastructure, harvest more rainfall, and strengthen its water management.
He expressed these views during a day-long conference “Water Security Challenges and Conservation Strategy for Pakistan” jointly organized by the HSF and Center for Global & Strategic Studies (CGSS) held here.
Steffen Kudella said Pakistan, one of the most naturally arid countries, has an average of only 240 mm of rainfall per year. Around one fourth of the country’s land area is cultivated, and most of this agriculture is water-intensive and dependent on man-made irrigation systems, he added.
Water is also a vital topic of regional dialogue. Regional dialogues on water need to be prepared by discussions on Pakistan’s national level first, he said.
Addressing the conference, former Chairman of Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) Dr. Yusuf Zaraf, TI, said water security is Pakistan’s most critical development challenge.
He said around 95 percent of water goes to agriculture and major user of field water is agriculture.
We have taken 70 years to use water for electricity, he said adding it is expected that water scarcity will be much higher by 2025.
He said “We are not making any small dams and are also exposing the population to consistent flooding. Water pricing for all wages must be made and there should be better governance and coordination among the Ministries.”
Chairman of Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) Dr. Muhammad Ashraf said, “No country has made progress without science and technology. Our national security is dependent on food security and food security is dependent on water supply and security.
In 1991 and 2005, he said we touched water scarcity line and it is expected to become worse by 2025. There is a huge pressure on ground water, anyone can install tube wells to pump and sell unlimited ground water.
Therefore, it is important to regulate it. We need to legislate and restrict indiscriminate groundwater absorption before our water becomes saline.”
General Manager (Hydro) of WAPDA Shahid Hameed said, “Water is less and limited but it is life. Only 1% of water is present in the form of fresh water in streams. We need water reservoirs to save flood water, rain water so that it can be used in due course. We have to transfer water from western to eastern areas through water barrages, canals etc.”
Prof. Dr. Muhammad Khan, Member Board of Experts, CGSS highlighted security of water sources and catchment areas.
He said water security is an increasingly important issue that constitutes one of the biggest challenge to Pakistan.
It is a multi-dimensional problem therefore there cannot be a single solution. Water sources of Pakistan are declining and water scarcity is increasing, he added.
Dr. Hifza Rasheed, Director NWQL of Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) said Pakistan has external and internal threats related to water security and conservation and our vulnerability index is very high as compared to other countries.
“Our storage capacity is less and must be increased and we must establish good water distribution mechanism.”