ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday directed the Ministry of Water Resources and Planning Division to coordinate with provincial governments and formulate a comprehensive plan for undertaking urban water schemes for all major cities on a priority basis to overcome water scarcity.
Presiding over a meeting on the overall water situation in the country, Mr Khan also directed that the water supply scheme for Rawalpindi and Islamabad should be started immediately by the Punjab and federal governments.
Minister for Finance Asad Umar, Minister for Planning Khusro Bakhtiar, Minister for Power Omar Ayub Khan, Adviser to the PM Malik Amin Aslam Khan, secretaries of water resources, economic affairs division, food security and research, the chairman of the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) and other senior officers also attended the briefing.
The prime minister was briefed in detail about the overall situation regarding the availability of water in the country, situation of storage of water and the issues being faced towards ensuring water security for a growing population of the country.
He was informed that the current water storage capacity of around 13.7 million acres feet was far below the international standards and needed to be enhanced on a priority basis. He was also informed that there was an urgent need to check unregulated extraction of groundwater which has resulted into fast depletion of aquifers.
Prime Minister Imran Khan directed that a comprehensive plan along with a legislative framework should be worked out for ensuring maximum utilisation of the surface water and reversing the existing trend of unabated pumping of groundwater.
He was also briefed about the progress on various development projects and construction of small, medium and large dams.
Discussing the obstacles in the construction of the Dasu Dam, the prime minister directed that the issue of acquisition of land and settlement with the land owners of the dam should be resolved on a priority basis in consultation with the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and taking into account legitimate demands of the owners.
Mr Khan emphasised that the Land Acquisition Act, 1984, needed to be revisited in order to make it more relevant with the present time.
He underscored the need for an integrated planning and enhanced coordination between relevant departments i.e. Wapda, the Ministry of Water Resources, Ministry of Energy, Planning Division and other stakeholders while planning and execution of major projects of national importance.
The prime minister also directed that a comprehensive plan should be formulated to promote off-grid solutions, including harnessing of solar and wind potential of the country.
Published in Dawn, September 27th, 2018