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Glaciers need to be conserved

April 27, 2013

ISLAMABAD, April 26: Member Agriculture and Food, Planning Commission Mohammad Javed Malik on Friday called for conserving glaciers which contributed volumes of water to the Indus River that ran across the country.

“We need to conserve our water towers by conserving the natural habitats and avoid indiscriminate use of water resources besides protecting the rivers and lakes from the untreated waste water,” he said while addressing at the launch of the policy brief on Water Management in the Central Karakorum National Park (CKNP).

The brief was launched by Socio-Economic Environmental Development (SEED) in collaboration with the Karakorum International University.He said only the integrated and collaborative approach would help conserve the large glaciers for smooth and steady provision of water not only for the human life and livelihood in the mountainous region but for the downstream as well.

Vice-Chancellor KIU Dr Najma Najam said as many as 20 students have enrolled for the PhD programmes on variety of nature conservation and social development while 40 research projects are being run.

She said the students spent their weekends in the fields and on the completion of the researches they would have original and realistic data to combat the challenges of the climate change in Pakistan.

Project Director SEED Raffaele Del Cima said: “The key objectives of this policy on water are to draw on the knowledge body generated by the researches that have been carried out since 2009 through his organisation in Gilgit-Baltistan.

Specifically, the document highlights water issues and defines some priority actions based on the research findings.”

Talking about the recommendations, Raffaele said the policy brief urged for improving communication of research findings from the scientific community to the policy makers.

It also called for promoting awareness among local communities of water protection and treatment, and hygienic behaviour by avoiding animals near water resources, and to reduce risks of water pollution through the establishment of water safety plans at communal level, and to sensitize all the stakeholders, in the public and private sector for water quality supply and protection.

Scientist Dr Daniela Giardina said: “The Central Karakorum National Park (CKNP) stretched to about 11,000 square kilometers has the largest glacial deposits on the globe out of polar region.

“About 38 per cent of the total area of the CKNP consists of glaciers. This huge body of ice-fed streams and lakes represent the resource of freshwater for both the CKNP ecosystem and communities as well as downstream almost the entire Pakistan.”

However, the source of most water is glacial melt, availability falls dramatically during winter, and residents, especially women have to walk long distances to fetch water, she said.

Talking about the major challenges, she said: “Lack of available and reliable data on glacier masses and on water resources in the area and lack of continuous access to safe water for the sparse population in remote areas and lack of population awareness on water management, shortage of governmental funding for the region are the basic one we need to deal with.”