As elsewhere, World Water Day was observed in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit-Baltistan on Tuesday. The occasion was arranged to raise awareness regarding the challenges of water shortages.
World Water Day originates from the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
A seminar ‘Water and Jobs: Empowering Young Professionals’ was held in Gilgit. The seminar was held under the aegis of Gilgit-Baltistan’s Environmental Protection Agency, Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources, Pakistan Agriculture Research Council, Karakoram International University, Aga Khan Development Network, World Wide Fund for Nature, Mountain Areas Farmer Support Organisation and local communities.
Speakers and experts said climate change and inefficient management were the major reasons threatening water resources in the country. They maintained Pakistan’s agro-based economy significantly depended upon water availability. However, water resources of the country were scarce, owing to climate change and inefficient water management practices upstream and downstream of the Indus basin.
Environmental Protection Agency member Shehzad Shigri said, “Water at various natural springs in Gilgit-Baltistan is not safe for consumption under international health standards and causes health related problems.”
Another speaker pointed out, “It is estimated that till October 2014, 1,210 million acre-feet of unutilised water has been drained into the sea over the last 36 years.” He stated in monitory terms, the value of unutilised water is $177 billion after deducting 360 MAF required for environmental purposes. He said in terms of hydropower production, Pakistan has lost 408,534 MW.
Awareness walk in Batkhela
An awareness walk was held in Batkhela to mark the day. The event was arranged by Al-Khidmat Foundation.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 23rd, 2016.