LAHORE: The All Pakistan Business Forum on Saturday urged the government to declare ‘water emergency’ keeping in view the water storage as the country would face a severe crisis within 10 years if appropriate steps were not taken to enhance storage capacity.

In a press statement, APBF President Ibrahim Qureshi observed that Indus River System Authority had constantly been issuing warning to the government on water scarcity, emphasising initiatives towards building new dams as a national emergency but the government seemed least serious.

He said all Public Sector Development Programme allocations should be spent only on enhancing water storage capacity, adding Pakistan would have to develop mega and small dams to store water if it wanted to avert crisis in coming years.

He said the shortage of water had caused undue damage to the agriculture and manufacturing sectors.

“We cannot waste more time and the government should pave way for early construction of Kalabagh dam which is the only solution to water and electricity shortage,” he said.

Qureshi said it was unfortunate that Pakistan had no water policy for the last 16 years.

He said with 14 per cent of water shortage estimated for the Rabi season, Irsa had asked the government to move towards building dams on an urgent basis to avoid an economic loss of billions of rupees every year.

He said wastage of one million acres feet (MAF) of water was estimated to cause an economic loss of Rs60 billion, adding about 36 MAF water had gone into the sea last season, including about 8.6 MAF which was required to flow below the Kotri barrage for environmental reasons.

This meant over 27 MAF water had been wasted in just one season that was equivalent to the storage capacity of three big dams, Qureshi added.

Published in Dawn, January 3rd, 2016