Pakistan’s water problem


Floods don’t kill people by drowning only, they also kill people by destroying crops, they kill people by spreading disease, they kill people by washing away homes, cattle and livelihood, and money as villagers rarely have bank accounts, leaving them with nothing to survive on.

These are not disasters that will last a few days or weeks until the ground dries up. For many it will last for years. As far as the eye can see, the land is pure mud, with pathetic sprouts of green revealing the ruined crops. How can they start again with absolutely nothing?

People are bathing in streams and then drinking the same water further down. This is the cruelty of the floods – water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink.

But the minute there is any talk of building dams which alone can control these recurring floods, the landlords sitting in the assemblies veto any such move because their precious acres will come under water.

B A Malik in his book ‘Save Water Save Pakistan’ tells us that: Total number of people displaced will be 34,500 in KP as against 48,500 in Punjab. Total area submerged in KP would be 3,000 acres, as against 24,500 acres in Punjab. Of this the irrigated area in KP will be only 100 acres against 2,900 acres in Punjab. In any case the above submergence will only be when the reservoir is at maximum capacity for only 3-4 weeks per year.

On the other hand, 3,000 acres and 5,000 acres of mostly prime land was taken up by Mardan SCARP and the Pindi/Peshawar Motorway respectively without any protest from anywhere.

Are we going to hold the whole country hostage to these 3,000 acres? What about the many thousands of acres that the new dams will irrigate?