IPR stresses ur­gent in­crease in wa­ter reser­voirs

Pakistan Observer - - NATIONAL - SALIM AHMED

LAHORE—The wa­ter chal­lenge faced by Pak­istan to­day is big­ger than that of the power sec­tor. And it is get­ting worse ev­ery­day. Pak­istan must ur­gently in­crease its wa­ter stor­age ca­pac­ity. This was stated in a Fact Sheet is­sued Tues­day by the In­sti­tute for Pol­icy Re­forms (IPR).

The In­sti­tute rec­om­mends that govern­ment must start build­ing the Di­amer Bhasha Dam forth­with. The scale and com­plex­ity of the project re­quires top-level govern­ment lead­er­ship.

This will speed up ex­e­cu­tion in Pak­istan and high­light its pri­or­ity to in­ter­na­tional donors. Pak­istan must re-quest Chi­nese as­sis­tance for the project. Pak­istan’s agri­cul­ture pro­duc­tion fell in fis­cal 201516. A num­ber of is­sues con­strain agri­cul­ture in the coun­try. Th­ese in­clude cost of in­puts and price volatil­ity of out­put. Farm­ers do not get qual­ity and virus re­sis­tant seeds. Wa­ter avail­abil­ity and its use are equally key is­sues.

Pak­istan is among the most wa­ter stressed coun­tries in the world. With silt­ing of dams and a growing pop­u­la­tion, this will only be­come worse. Avail­able wa­ter was 138.6 MAF in 2014-15. It fell to 133 MAF in 2015-16. An ac­tual flow to canals is 114 MAF. It is re­duc­ing each year. Area ir­ri­gated by canals has been in long-term de­cline since the 1990s.

To­tal gross stor­age ca­pac­ity of un­der 19 MAF is just 14% of avail­able wa­ter re­source and has not changed from 1980. Per capita dam ca­pac­ity was 320 cu­bic me­ters in 1980. It is 150 now. We have not built a sin­gle large dam since Tar­bela. Kal­abagh has been in ter­mi­nal de­bate. Di­amer Bhasha has been a per­ma­nent work in progress. Dur­ing this time, net wa­ter stor­age has come down by 30%.

The Fact Sheet rec­om­mends ur­gent ex­e­cu­tion of Di­amer Bhasha. It is a crit­i­cal project that will in­crease wa­ter and power sup­ply in the coun­try. Bhasha will add 6.4 MAF to our gross stor­age. This is 35% to 40% of the to­tal ex­ist­ing ca­pac­ity.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.