Federal Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Muhammad Asif has said that water crisis is looming over Pakistan if solid steps are not taken to tap the existing water resources of the country. He said that since the water is underpriced and its value is not known to ordinary people, the waste of this precious resource is rampant which is leading to a fast deterioration of the situation.
The minister was addressing a progress review meeting with international Development partners on Monday.
Khawaja Asif said that Water is a gift of nature and is vital for survival of the human race. He said that we have not increased water storage capacity significantly since the building of Tarbela and Mangla dams in the 60s. He said that Pakistan’s storage capacity has also reduced due to silting.
The Minister said that the present government has paid focused attention towards the water sector management and drafted the water policy in consultation with all the stakeholders in the country. The water policy is a comprehensive policy document for tapping the water resources in the country.
Highlighting the long way the Ministry of Water and Power has come since the current government came to power three years ago in 2013, the minister said that a lot has been achieved in terms of sectoral reforms. He said that a number of milestones have been achieved, including stability of the sector, reliability in liquidity, addition of generation and improvement of transmission system etc.
He said that the government came up with long term strategy ensuring macro economic stability in the country. The government also came up with an ambitious strategy for the power sector. Simultaneously it not only addressed the key challenges of the power sector but also introduced the energy market as an investment haven for the international and local entrepreneurs.
The meeting was attended by Masroor Ahmed, World Bank; William Bill Young, World Bank; Ehtsham, ADB; Michino Yamaguchi, Senior Representative of JICA; Kenji Ogasahara, Representative of JICA, Amir Bukhari Senior Pregame Officer of JICA; Nauman Bhutta, AFD; Arbab Shakar, Swiss Embassy, SDC; Inam Ullah Khan, Country Representative, ISDB; Dr Parvaiz Naeem, Senior Programme Coordinator, KFW; Nadeem Siddiqi, KFW; Sebastian ERNST, Embassy of Germany; Bongsu Park, Embassy of Korea, Tore Nadrebo, Embassy of Norway; Rick Slettenhaar, Head of the Economic Department, Embassy of Netherlands; Sadik Babur Girgin, Ambassador, Turkish Embassy; Tokhir Mirzoev, IMF; Anwar Ul-Haq, Member Finance, WAPDA; Izharul Haq, Advisor, WAPDA; Syed Mehr Ali Shah, Joint Secretary (Water), M/o Water & Power; Hiba Zaidi, IMF; Maqsood Ahmed, NTDC; Asjad Imtiaz, CEA/CFFC; Zaho, Chinese Embassy and Hamza Khalid, Australian High Commission.
Briefing the participants, Ministry of Water and Power Secretary Mohammad Younus Dagha said the power sector turned a corner in 2015 as major milestones were achieved.
He said that confidence of the investors has greatly been restored and this can be easily gauged from the fast that in the last 20 years, investments were made in 10,000 MW worth of projects while in the last three years investments have been made in 12,000 MW of power projects by the private sector.
The secretary, while expressing gratitude towards development partners like USAID, World Bank, AEDB and JAICA etc for providing assistance to the Ministry of Water and Power in up-gradation of its system, said that a lot has been achieved and the results have now started to come. The overall transmission and distribution losses of the system have been reduced from 19.1% to 18% resulting in saving of Rs 10 billion. He said that effective monitoring of the generation and merit order has further improved the situation and the recoveries have come to 93.4% against the previous 88%, registering a significant improvement in the liquidity of the power sector.
The secretary further highlighted the regional connectivity initiatives of the present government. He said that Pakistan has all the potential to become a regional energy hub in the shape of regional inter-transmission of energy. He said that CASA-1000 has now entered into implementation stage making the regional connection a reality.
The World Bank representative apprised the meeting about the water sector partnership with the government of Pakistan, especially the development of flood protection plan and various underground and surface water feasibility studies conducted by the Bank. He also suggested that the availability of water needs to be improved along with strengthening the provincial capacity for tapping the water resources. He said that financial allocation for the water sector is also a key area. He stressed for water sector management training for the officials and those associated with the water sector at the provincial level.
The meeting was briefed about the status of different water sector projects by WAPDA Chairman Zafar Mehmood. He told the meeting that the present government has initiated a large number of projects in the water sector and after a gap of nearly 50 years, large dams like Dasu and Diamer-Basha are being pursued. He also apprised the meeting about the Kurram Tangi, Satpara, Khan Khawar, Khyal Khawar, Dubir Khawar and other hydro electric projects.