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The Water Shortage | Editorial

The Pakistan Council for Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) report on water scarcity has further added to the list of crisis the country is facing. The alarming study published by PCRWR has warned that the country might reach absolute water scarcity by 2025. The country is almost water-scarce presently, with an alarming rate of 1,017 cubic meters water available per capita annually, which is dangerously close to 1,000 cubic meters, the threshold of water scarcity. The report maintains that the negligence on the part of authorities over the years has led Pakistan into the current situation, and if government would not address the issue even now, the country might face a drought-like situation in not-so-distant future. The report highlights that Pakistan touched the ‘water stress line’ in 1990, and crossed the ‘water scarcity line’ in 2005. The study predicts that if this trend of depleting water reserves continues at this rate, it is almost certain that the country may face acute water shortage.

To deal with the uncertain situation ahead, there is a need to carry out research at various levels, but the lack of funds available to the PCRWR do not help the cause. Pakistani leadership has a history of turning a deaf ear towards such issues, and action is only taken as reaction after a calamity strikes. The country has been facing acute electricity shortage, law and order situation, and terrorism among others in a long list of crises. Authorities have ignored climate change and global warming over the years despite continuous floods, severe heat waves, and irregular weather patterns. The negligence of authorities is evident from the fact that no efforts were made despite touching water stress line in the 1990s. Furthermore, federal government has not been able to reach a consensus on the topic of building large dams. Moreover, it also failed on diplomatic fronts, as it has not been able to persuade or deter India from obstructing downstream river flows by building dams.

The authorities should come up with a comprehensive plan to tackle this severe issue without further delays. Pakistan has faced drought-like situations in Thar and some parts of Balochistan over past few years. The PCRWR should be made functional to its full capacity to conduct research at different levels and recommend solutions to government. Moreover, there are many issues related to global warming that the country can address by taking general measures including a curb on deforestation, a decrease in the use of carbon substances, etc. Glaciers in the mountain range in the north of Pakistan are the main source of water for the country, but in the past few decades, rate of melting is alarmingly high. Furthermore, due to lack of dams and other water storage reservoirs, the major portion of water goes to the sea. Government should focus on construction of water reservoirs to avoid wastage of the water. Furthermore, the public should be educated to avoid wastage of fresh water. Since Pakistan is an agricultural economy, water is the necessary component in this regard, and farmers should be educated on the fair usage of water to avoid wastage. These tiny steps at general level could help address the issue significantly in the short and long run.


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