- Instead of bewailing water scarcity, let us act now!
By Engr Asif Ali Jam
Water is not only the most important natural resource around the world for the human beings, animals and plants for sustainable life, but has equally attention for agricultural, and for industrial use. According to the US Geological Survey, 2.5 per cent of fresh water is available of earth’s water resources and about 30 per cent of fresh water is present underground. According to the 2019 scenario, Pakistan’s population is about 216 million and it is facing a widely authorised scarcity with an availability of 1000 cubic meters every year. As the water table is decreasing about more than 1 foot per year, that pattern is also seen in the area having lined canals and due to the widespread installation of tubewells overall in the country.
According to the water experts, groundwater level is declining in Lahore, and penetrating levels are falling about one 1 to 2 feet per year. The reason is that no restriction and instruction are given to anybody by government irrigation institutions to install tubewells according to standardised protocols of depth, amount and time for water. In 2025, the water chart of fluctuation will be at a critical level.
So, the installation procedure should be changed. Some tasks to construct minidams and their maintenance, protection, regulation and of additional development should be given to every provincial department by government. The problem is not only about the water level decreasing, but the resources of water being also contaminated with the effluent of industry and due to the flow of urban sewerage, that affect the quality of water.
There will be no water scarcity in Pakistan, if water storage resources are constructed and if some steps are be implemented by the policy makers. The policy makers can plan for the regulation, adjustment, designing, operation and maintenance of water resources and also make them accessible in the designing of effective setup for utilisation of groundwater for drinking, and domestic, agricultural, and for industrial use, to complete the vision of current situation
But in Pakistan, the water stress issues are dominant. According to the future strategy of Pakistan, instruction will be given to every farmer to grow only special recommended agricultural crops that are essential for living. To avoid these strict strategies, water-saving techniques of sprinkler and drip irrigation should be used instead of flood irrigation.
In 2030, Pakistan will approach the fluctuate level of water availability of 1000 cubic metres per person, that describes a water-deficient country. After, to save agriculture and human beings as well as animals and plants, such changes should be launched that will be helpful for water storage bodies, and tubewell installation, and to stop the lined-canal process that shows results of lowering water table.
From a world map of water deficiency maximum, Muslim countries are shown at critical level of deficiency instead of other countries, Pakistan’s scenario of water level is under high risk. Water is the most important natural resource around the world for drinking purpose, domestic, agricultural, and for industrial use. Pakistan is wasting the water of rivers and rainfall, instead of saving water of maximum intensity of rainfall and river water through water resources and dams. Nowadays despite a maximum rainfall situation in Karachi and Lahore, water was being wasted through cesspipe, sewerage and other forms, instead of saving through minidams.
There was only one dam, whose capacity was filled during this season of rainfall and it will provide water for up to two year to the people of Karachi. About 30 to 32 MAF water are left to fall into the Arabian Sea annually. But it is necessary to let 10 MAF annually, according to the international rules. In agricultural water storage, water is stored for later use in natural water sources, such as groundwater aquifers, soil water, natural wetlands, and small artificial ponds, tanks and reservoirs behind major dams.
There will be no water scarcity in Pakistan, if water storage resources are constructed and if some steps are be implemented by the policy makers. The policy makers can plan for the regulation, adjustment, designing, operation and maintenance of water resources and also make them accessible in the designing of effective setup for utilisation of groundwater for drinking, and domestic, agricultural, and for industrial use, to complete the vision of current situation. The area under Haveli circle canal (HCC)-Multan Punjab, Pakistan that includes the districts of Jhang, Khanewal, Multan, Toba Tek Singh, showing what is the pattern of water quality, water level and land use during pre- and post-monsoon seasons and what will be the future strategy, if amendments in law are not passed, due to bungling policymakers and bureaucracy, can serve as an example. And the plan maker can suggest amendments in law, in the installation of tubewells of recommended capacity, depth and to extract recommended amount of water. As the water table is decreasing about more than one foot a year, that pattern is also seen in the area having lined canals and because of decreasing rainfall. So, our motto should be ‘resources and dam scarcity’ instead of ‘water scarcity’.