ISLAMABAD: Pakistan can store just 10 per cent of the water flowing through the country’s rivers and the rest goes to waste, the minister for water resources told the National Assembly on Monday.
Detailing the storage capacity in the country, Syed Javed Ali Shah said that reservoirs could store just 14 million acre-foot (MAF), amounting to just 10 per cent of annual river flows.
In response to a question raised by PML-N lawmaker Shaikh Rohale Asghar, the minister said that in November last year, Irsa’s advisory committee had anticipated a water shortage of 36 per cent for the Rabi Season (October 2017-March 2018).
Inaction regarding building new reservoirs, reduction in storage capacity of existing ones because of sedimentation, rapidity of climate change and increase in population and water demand were cited as main factors affecting the water shortage in the country.
As of April 4 this year, the domestic water storage capacity was at its lowest: The available water storage capacity in the three main reservoirs was just 0.018 MAF against last year’s storage at 0.506 MAF.
According to him, the country’s average storage capacity for the past five years was 1.421 MAF and for the past 10 years, it was 0.58 MAF.
26 projects for preserving water
The minister said that the country was currently building 26 projects for preserving water flows. The live storage capacity of these reservoirs would be 7.323277 MAF.
He said that the federal government was sponsoring a number of water sector projects, executed by Wapda and provincial irrigation departments under PSDP.
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Of these 26 projects, he said, only two would be completed during current fiscal year, while 13 were expected to be finished in the next fiscal year.
Six water reservoir projects were expected to be completed by 2020.
The remainder reservoirs would be completed beyond 2020, he said.
Diamer-Basha dam, scheduled to be built on Indus River near Chilas, would have a storage capacity of up to 6.4 MAF. This project is likely to be built by 2025-26.
According to the minister, 31,695 acres of land had so far been acquired out of a total of 37,419 acres.
Construction of infrastructure was in progress while work on the main dam was yet to be started, he said.
Lack of quorum
The government faced an embarrassing situation yet again on Monday on account of lack of quorum.
Right after the session started, MQM-Pakistan’s lawmaker Khawaja Sohail Mansoor asked the Speaker Ayaz Sadiq to allow him to speak on a point of order.
When the chair suggested the lawmaker to defer his conversation after the Question Hour, Mansoor insisted that he should be allowed to do so because he wanted to speak about cases being probed against him by the FIA.
He threatened to disrupt the session if he was not allowed to speak on point of order.
When he was not given the floor, he pointed out the lack of quorum.
This led to a headcount and the proceedings were suspended subsequently.
When the session resumed the quorum was again found to be lacking and subsequently the session was adjourned until 11am on Tuesday.
The session was adjourned before it could take up any item on the agenda.
Earlier, members of the National Assembly offered Fateha for the departed souls of three children martyred in unprovoked Indian firing along the Working Boundary in Sialkot Sector. The House also offered Fateha for the departed soul of Pakistani student Sabika Sheikh who was killed in the Texas firing incident.
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