KARACHI: The government needs to develop and implement a national water policy immediately and also declare 2016 to 2025 as the decade of water development and water sharing for all.
These were the demands at the International Water Conference on ‘Securing Sustainable Water for All’ arranged by the Hisaar Foundation last December.
While highlighting key points of the conference’s declaration at the Karachi Press Club on Monday, Chairperson of the Hisaar Foundation, Zohair Ashir, said that in Pakistan the water crisis was grave.
Due to political disharmony on the issue of water, he said that it was very difficult to gather all the political stakeholders on one platform. He pointed out that Pakistan has no national policy on water.
Chair of the Hisaar Foundation’s academic committee, Simi Kamal said that the population was increasing rapidly, while water distribution was decreasing. “We need to maintain proper water supply in urban, rural and agricultural areas,” she explained.
She pointed out that all provinces have different stances on water issues. Politicians, according to her, are very reluctant to touch on the issue of water accords. She said that until you debate on such issues, things cannot be improved.
“We need to take the politics out of water issues,” she said, highlighting that if we want to bring more area under cultivation, water needs to be utilised properly. She explained that melting glaciers had formed rivers that contained 150 million acre-feet of water and Pakistan has 50 million acre-feet of ground water stored, which is mostly brackish in Sindh, but in Punjab the quality of that water was quite good. Two-third of the water in the country’s canals is wasted, according to her, which could be effectively saved and utilised.
Referring to Balochistan’s groundwater extraction law, she said that it was such a great law that whole world quoted it. However, in Pakistan, the law was being violated on a large scale, she said.
She said that the population of Karachi was increasing rapidly but the water supply was not increasing. “We need to know the exact population of the city,” she insisted, adding that citizens also need to know how much water is available for the city and where the remaining quantity needed can be obtained.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 16th, 2016.