Pak­istan’s wors­en­ing wa­ter woes


THE al­most drought-like sit­u­a­tion in many parts of the coun­try at the start of the Kharif sow­ing sea­son is cause for se­ri­ous alarm.

There is a ten­dency to treat such con­di­tions with an air of res­ig­na­tion, as if we are to­tally help­less be­fore the va­garies of na­ture; in fact, some peo­ple, in view of the scarce wa­ter avail­able for our agrar­ian needs, start talk­ing, re­flex­ively, about build­ing the Kal­abagh dam.

Given that we are likely to face sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tions in the fu­ture, with weather pat­terns be­com­ing more er­ratic, it is vi­tal to move beyond these sim­ple po­si­tions. Pak­istan’s food se­cu­rity,

Black mar­ket­ing of wa­ter is wide­spread across Sindh

as well as its in­dus­trial base, is largely built on the ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tem be­queathed to us by the Amer­i­cans, work­ing through the World Bank in the wake of the In­dus Wa­ters Treaty.

Re­ports of wide­spread black mar­ket­ing of wa­ter, which is pumped out il­le­gally us­ing pumps and then sold to farm­ers at a steep price, are wide­spread across Sindh. On top of this, there is the mat­ter of poor wa­ter prac­tices on farms, re­sult­ing in much wastage. Until these prob­lems are ad­e­quately ad­dressed, it would be fu­tile to talk of Pak­istan’s wa­ter cri­sis in terms of quan­tity alone.

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