Heading towards a Disaster

Note: The Author claims that this paper has been veted by Dr. A. Q. Khan the nuclear scientist. 

By Arsalan Ayaz

Water is the most essential commodity for the survival of all living creatures on planet earth. Seventy present of earth crust is covered with water. It makes 70 % mass of human body and 85 % of human cell. Being an agricultural country, water means so much for Pakistan as  70% of our population relies on agriculture. The agriculture sector not only provides food to 180 million people in Pakistan, but it also contributes above 20% to GDP and provides 47% of the total employment opportunity in the country. It is also the main source of raw materials for major domestic industries, particularly textile, which accounts for 60% of all exports.

These statistics provide insight to every Pakistani into the significant importance of water . Thanks to the lack of attention and criminal negligence of successive regimes, the country is now on the brink of disaster. In 1950 Pakistan was a water abundant country with above 5000 cubic meter per capita and which is now sunk to a merely 1100 cubic meter per capita. In 2006 a World Bank report stated that Pakistan is moving fast from being a “highly water-stressed country to a water scarce country”. According to a UNDP survey, Pakistan is the world’s most water limited nation among the world’s 25 most populous countries after South Africa and Egypt. The water  storage capacity of Pakistan is merely 29 days while other countries of the world like America, China and India can store 900,540 and 120 to 240 days river water respectively.

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China and India have 80,000 and 4291reservoirs respectively while we have only two large dams (Terbala and Mangla) and a few small ones. It is most unfortunate that we haven’t built a single major reservoir after 1976. Contrary to this, China is building 95 major dams with a height of 200 feet or more followed by Turkey with 51, Iran 48, Japan 40 and India with 15 large dams and dozens of small dams. 

 This shows our laxity and lack of planning as nation. . It’s a real shame for us as a nation that, despite having  fertile soil, the world’s best irrigation system, maximum sun shine and sufficient labor force, we are a food-deficit country. The Government expects a shortfall of 11 million tons of grain this year and 16 million tons by 2020, which is a direct result of water scarcity. Withdrawal of waters from three rivers by India through the Indus Water Treaty has already had a catastrophic effect on the mangroves, riverine forests and irrigated plantations in Pakistan The situation demands bringing additional land under cultivation in order agricultural growth  at par with population growth, while 30% our of land is barren due to inadequate water. Now it is imperative to develop a national consensuses on all mega projects, including Kalabag and Katzara, without any further delay

I would request to all those people sitting at the helms of affairs to wake up and act. Pakistan badly requires water reservoirs. Instead of scratching our heads we need to act on a war footings to prevent this disaster. World Bank reports have already warned that if the current situation persists, then Pakistan would soon be facing a situation similar to that of Ethiopia and Somalia. In 2010 we already had an example of what is predicted for the future when, 50 women were killed for lack of flour. This is an alarming situation and our only option is to act or die.

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