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JAMSHORO: Retired Justice Amir Hani Muslim, head of Supreme Court-mandated commission on water quality and drainage in Sindh, blames bad governance for the deepening water crisis and says there are more than 700 sources which contaminate whatever little water there is in the Indus River.

“I have visited many sites in the province — including water supply and drainage installations and sources of water — within a few months. I see that there is an issue of bad governance as there are more than 700 sources of contamination as far as the Indus River is concerned,” said the judge.

He was speaking at the concluding ceremony of a diploma course titled ‘Flood forecasting and flood hazard management’ held at the US-Pakistan Centre for Advanced Studies in Water (USPCAS-W), Mehran Unive­rsity of Engineering and Tec­hnology (MUET), here on Saturday.

Safe drinking water was accessible to less than 15 per cent of the population while inadequate sanitation routinely caused preventable waterborne diseases and environmental and health issues. “We must focus our attention on developing strategies and action plans to solve water-related issues,” he said.

He said that water scarcity emerged as an impediment to sustainable development in Pakistan because of inefficient management of water, which in turn led to more than 50pc loss of the precious commodity.

He said that industries, private sector and government could interact with MUET and utilise its expertise to resolve the issue. “Water availability in the country has dropped over time. Currently, per capita availability of water is down to almost 1,000 cubic meters from more than 5,000 cubic meters in 1947. Pakistan is on the verge of becoming a water-stressed country,” he said.

He suggested that the centre could help formulate policy measures and action plans to address the Sustainable Development Goal on water (SDG-6) as per Pakistan’s commitment to the United Nations.

MUET Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Mohammad Aslam Uqaili said: “Prevailing water situation and climate change conditions increase our responsibility to prepare ourselves and all those individuals and organisations concerned with water for effective management of our water resources and dealing with extreme weather events.”

He said the diploma course which focused on flood forecasting and flood hazard management was a fine example of not only recognition of the potential of the MUET water centre in meeting challenges of water sector but it was also an example of joint and coordinated efforts of different organisations.

Secretary of irrigation Jamal Mustafa Syed said the diploma course had enhanced capacity of the officers of the department and now they would apply their knowledge to the field.

He said that two more diploma or short course certification training courses would be held soon for the officials of the irrigation department in colla­boration with MUET’s water centre.

The diploma course is a collab­orative effort of USPCAS-W MUET and Sindh irrigation department.

Published in Dawn, July 22nd, 2018