Indus River System Authority (Irsa) Chairman Rao Irshad Ali Khan has warned that Pakistan is becoming a water-scarce country as since independence per capita water availability has dropped 500 per cent and the situation is worsening day by day.
Speaking at a conference on “Policy aspects for water irrigation” organised by the Department of Agriculture Economics, University of Agriculture Faisalabad (UAF) on Monday, he pointed out that in 1951, per capita water availability was 5,600 cubic metres but now it has decreased to 1,000 cubic metres. In 2025, water availability will decrease even further and stand at 800 cubic metres.
Khan stressed the need for increasing the capacity of storages by constructing new reservoirs and advocated water conservation measures such as lining, rehabilitation and remodelling of barrages.
He said proposed dams on Indus River included Diamer-Bhasha Dam costing $11.2 billion which would have the capacity to store 6.4 million acre feet (MAF) of water, Akhori Dam costing $4.5 billion having capacity to store 6 MAF of water and Kalabagh Dam costing $6.5 billion having capacity to store 6.1 MAF of water.
UAF Vice Chancellor Dr Iqrar Ahmad underscored the need for conserving water by introducing innovative irrigation techniques, such as sprinkle and drip irrigation, and for ensuring maximum productivity from every drop of water.
Talking about the situation at the time of independence, he said at that time inflow in Pakistan was 167 MAF in western and eastern rivers.
He said global warming had started playing havoc as temperature was rising and glaciers were melting, so the country should take measures to conserve water and cope with climatic challenges.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 21st, 2011.
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