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Alarming drought prevailing across the Country, calls for water management emergency

Alarming drought prevailing across the Country, calls for water management emergency

Pakistan is running extremely low with water availability in major reservoirs and approaching the scarcity threshold for water. Researchers predict that Pakistan is on its way to becoming the most water-stressed country in the region.

Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) on Wednesday has issued a drought alert. The Media release, issued by the PMD said that the dearth appeared mainly due to severe deficient in rainfall during winter. Water scarcity condition may worsen if the rainfall remains scarce during winter. This dry condition was observed in southern parts of the country during the past five months.

The rainfall below the normal condition during past five months across the conditions: Photo: PMD Report

According to PMD report, severe drought is prevailing in barani areas of Punjab, lower Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), south Punjab, southwest Balochistan and southeast Sindh which may cause water stress for Kharif crops in the agriculture areas of the country.

Pakistan is facing severe drought conditions in Pakistan. Photo: PMD Report

Water availability in major reservoirs is low which will improve with the rise in temperature however small dams, ground water boring and wells may turn dry, particularly in Rawalpindi and Islamabad, claimed report.

The water level situation of reserviors. Photo: PMD Report

In this regard, stakeholders are advised for an immediate water management strategy by the PMD as the water shortfall could adversely affect the energy, agriculture and in turn austerely distress the economy.

Pakistan is among the top countries severely threatened by the global climate change. This change is resulting in extreme deficient in rainfall or untimely rainfall, fast approaching droughts, unpredictable seasons conditions and other weather calamities. Water scarcity in Pakistan has been accompanied by rising temperatures. In May, at least 65 people died from heatstroke in the southern city of Karachi. In 2015, at least 1,200 people died during a spate of extremely hot weather.

According to researchers and experts, the scale of the impact of water scarcity may not gaugeable, but the situation calls for a water emergency in the country, and multifarious measures under a national water management policy.

Analysts call for new reservoirs to overcome water scarcity

According to IRSA Chairman, Ahmad Kamal, Pakistan plunged into water scarcity due to criminal negligence by the authorities concerned in the past. The country will face dire consequences, if work on the critical Diamer-Bhasha Dam is not started at the earliest. Unfortunately, the country has failed to undertake any major water reservoir project, which has resulted in severe water shortage.

“The government should construct more dams on the way to reserve water that can also be utilized for power production as well. Pakistan could face severe drought by 2025, if timely steps to overcome water scarcity are not taken. There is a need that the government should construct further water reservoirs to fulfill growing demands of water. The government should chalk out comprehensive water policy. National Action Plan should be formulated for judicious use of available water”, warned Dr. Gul Faraz, the energy expert.

The Low level reserviors in Pakistan. Photo: File

On the other hand, Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar also took suo motu notice of this acute water shortage over a report by the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) regarding threatening water scarcity in Pakistan.

According to this PCRWR report released in September 2017, The Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) made the alarming forecast in a report, which claimed the country touched the “water stress line” in 1990 before crossing the “water scarcity line” in 2005.

The report warned that Pakistan could be facing a severe drought soon as the country will approach “absolute scarcity” levels of water by 2025.

Fast approaching drought in Pakistan. Photo: File

Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Thursday said that water shortage is emerging as a serious national issue of the country and policymakers should focus on urgent construction of more water dams in the country to cope with the rising water crisis.

Pakistan had so far constructed total 155 dams due to which it could store water for just 30 days. In comparison, India had built 5102 dams so far and it had the capacity to store water for 170 days.

Along with the reports by PMD and PCRWR, another recent report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said that Pakistan ranks third in the world among countries facing acute water shortage and has the world s fourth-highest rate of water use. Its water intensity rate — the amount of water, in cubic meters, used per unit of GDP — is the world s highest. This suggests that no country s economy is more water-intensive than Pakistan s.

It is not the first time that development and research organizations have alerted Pakistani authorities about an impending crisis, which some analysts say poses a bigger threat to the country than terrorism.

Researchers said that population growth and urbanization are the main reasons behind the crisis. The issue has also been exacerbated by climate change, poor water management and a lack of political will to deal with the crisis.

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