Scarcity of Life: Water shortages reaching vertical limits in Pakistan

Scarcity

Syed Zain Ali Gardezi |

Among all the South Asian countries, Pakistan will be the country to enter 2025 with a water deficit, a state with world’s largest irrigation system with so futile resources that 93% of its fresh water is being dumped in the sea. FPCCI Chairman Coordination Malik Sohail Hussain on Sunday asked the government to take concrete steps to overcome water scarcity which has become a threat to agricultural and industrial production and development of the country.

Pakistan is a state with severe economic problems yet generous enough to give away 23Bn dollars’ worth of fresh water into the sea, an agriculture-based state without the proper monitoring system.  Where politics topple one of the most crucial projects for the state’s survival.

Rapid melting glaciers, reduced and unpredicted rain patterns, increased demand of water for the agriculture sector, poor water sanitation around the whole region, unchecked tube welling causing the rapid decrease in underground water resources, political failures in securing the rights over the waters all are together feeding an upcoming unprecedented economic crisis for Pakistan. It might have been in the books of researchers, planners but in the hands that can do something at a greater level.

Water contamination is another issue in Pakistan. According to the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry, 90 percent of factories in and around the city dump their waste untreated in open pits or discharge untreated water in streams.

The water shortage in the capital city may worsen in the summer as the water level in both Simly and Khanpur dams has not risen and 33 of the tube wells are also dysfunctional. Mayor Sheikh Anser Aziz recently wrote to Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal for adding the Ghazi Barotha water supply project to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects, as a long-term solution. However, for which, a staggering $1 billion is required along with foreign assistance and loans.

Some might say it’s more of a natural phenomenon and bound to occur, well global warming is indeed a worldwide man-made natural phenomenon but its always better to “light a candle then curse the darkness”, what we can do is reduce the repercussions, handle the outcomes, vigilantly going on this road full of dangers, dangers that can entreated the economy of the state, its survival and capacity to overcome this crisis. Well it’s true that we can’t have a magic wand and get the surplus water as Bangladesh has [1023 m^3/person/year] but we can devise a strategy to cope with the rising scenario. Act vigilantly, effectively and in a calculated manner.

Read more: CPEC: An environmental disaster

It’s also true that due to recent security crisis the topic of water has been off the table but in the long run nature, time and global warming is not going to accept these excuses and will punish those who didn’t prepare for their perceived arrival, like the Mohenjo-Daro civilizations. To cope with this, we must act like we are here to stay, till the end of time, launch the projects that are longer than five years and don’t have a limited capacity but the ones without an expiry date.

How many government officials or political leaders are concerned about climate changes and environmental degradation in Pakistan? Last year Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa), consented to the chopping down of around 900 mangrove trees to pave the way for the construction of the pipeline for LNG project. This happened despite mangroves forest being declared as ‘protected forest’ under the Law with the declaration of the entire mangrove area in the province as protected in Dec 2010. It is unfortunate that economic reasoning triumphs over environment reasoning and the natural beauty/environment of the country is at expense.

Mayor Sheikh Anser Aziz recently wrote to Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal for adding the Ghazi Barotha water supply project to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects, as a long-term solution.

Billion Tree Tsunami initiatives by the KPK government is one such peculiar move in an attempt to revert the debilitating impacts of climate change.

There’s a need of changing the attitude and think practically and in the long-term vision,  with the deficit of -102 cubic meters per  person per year Pakistan is in dire need to take some serious steps for the resolution of the water crisis, building of dams for water conservation, brick lining the canals to reduce water seepage [an expensive but highly profitable option with the possibility of conserving about 45MAF water per year which in economic terms is 45Bn $ of money a state  suffering from economic crisis could save.

Water contamination is another issue in Pakistan. According to the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry, 90 percent of factories in and around the city dump their waste untreated in open pits or discharge untreated water in streams.

Read more: Maraglla Hills engulfed in fire and illegal encroachment

A project which is to a great extent requiring one time investment, underground brick tunnels for water in Iran, Syria although hundreds of years old still work marvelously], install telemetry systems to properly view and control the water distribution mechanism, build small dams for water conservation with the added benefit of reduce sediment deposit in the major dams, establish a proper committee to preserve the rights of Pakistan over the water in the region as per the UN water course conventions, depoliticize water distribution institutions, let the water availability decide the crop pattern in the region rather than that of the market demands, last but not least change the attitude towards the problems history maybe tolerant of our mistakes, but it is definitely not ignorant. Once the heap is big enough a judgment of punishment could be passed. We must act when there is still at our hands.

The time is out of joint; it cares nothing for us.

It’s my own fault that I believed all its false promises;

 I ran until I outstripped Time, but then I looked behind

And saw that I was all alone, and no way back to find.

Cairokee: A Drop of White

The writer has a degree in International Relations. The views expressed in this article are authors own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space. 

Source

NO COMMENTS