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PAKISTAN is at number 17 on the list of countries facing a water crisis. The Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources has written to the federal government stating that a grave crisis will emerge if immediate action is not taken.

The PCRWR report states that the country will run out of water by 2025 if sizeable reservoirs are not developed. At independence, the per capita availability of water was over 5,000 cubic metres, which has shrunk to 1,000 cubic metres today.

Agriculture is the backbone of this country with more than 21 per cent of the GDP coming from the sector. Of the country’s exports, 70pc are from the agriculture sector that depends upon water.

According to the Pakistan Water Partnership, the total available surface water is about 153 million-acre-feet (MAF) while the total ground water reserves are approximately 24MAF. The population of Pakistan in 2030 is expected to be around 240 million. It is estimated that the country will have to face a shortage of 31MAF of water by 2025 which would pose a grave threat to the economy and stability.

India, meanwhile, is constructing a dam on Wular Lake. On other hand, the Tarbela, Chashma and Mangla dams have lost their capacity by up to 25pc owing to siltation and other natural processes.

The government must take serious measures, such as the storage of water, and the construction of Kalabagh and scores of small dams. The most pressing need is to create awareness and implement sound water-management practices.

Zahid Hussain

Balochistan

Published in Dawn, March 28th, 2018