International water day: Experts say govt ignorant of worsening water condition

Published: March 22, 2018
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PHOTO: FILE

PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: In Pakistan, water availability per capita is projected to decrease to an alarming level and as predicted by experts, chances are high that after seven years the country will run dry.

Pakistan is fast becoming a water-stressed country with a dearth of reserves, but unfortunately, the past and present governments despite knowing the alarming situation, have remained ignorant and to addressing the water shortage issues on a war footing.

The best example of this is that currently, 50 posts are lying vacant at the newly created Ministry of Water Resources.

According to an official working closely with the water, sector told The Express Tribune that currently there are two posts each for the joint secretary, deputy secretary in addition to four posts for section officers and about support staff 47 posts lying vacant. On the other hand, the new Ministry also lacks a proper and building for its operations.

“It has become difficult to work without professional and required staff,” said the official. Moreover, the departments functioning under this Ministry also lacks some important members to deal with critical issues, he said.

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Meanwhile according to the documents available with The Express Tribune, the government instead of increasing budgetary allocation for water sector under Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP), it has reduced the allocation from Rs57.8 billion in 2013-14 to Rs36.75 billion in 2017-18.

Ironically, in 2013-14 against the demand of Rs177 billion an amount of Rs57.8 billion was allocated for the water sector.  In 2014-15 against the demand of Rs154.9billion, only Rs46.2 billion were provided.  Similarly in 2017-18 against the demand of Rs174.6 billion a mere Rs36.75 billion was distributed.

In the meantime the impact of climate change on available water resources in Pakistan is all set to create havoc.

According to the latest report by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), under future climate change scenarios, Pakistan is expected to experience increased variability of river flows due to increased variability of precipitation and the melting of glaciers.

It further stated that demand for irrigation water may increase due to higher evaporation rates. Yields of wheat and basmati rice are expected to decline and may drive production northward, subject to water availability.

“Water availability for hydropower generation may decline. Hotter temperatures are likely to increase energy demand due to increased air conditioning requirements. Warmer air and water temperatures may decrease the efficiency of nuclear and thermal power plant generation. Mortality due to extreme heat waves may increase,” reads the report.

The report further reveals that crops grown in both irrigated areas and those under spate farming systems are highly sensitive to the amount of water available and temperature variability.

The study further reveals that the glacier reservoirs will be empty causing a decrease of flows by as much as 30% to 40% over the next 50 years.

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