Water is the most valuable and most precious natural resource. It is a priceless gift by God. We can see that it is becoming scarce day by day all over the world. Water scarcity is one of the five significant global risks.
Status of Pakistan regarding water scarcity
Unfortunately, Pakistan is among the top 10 countries having a threat of water scarcity. Reports by the United Nations Development Program(UNDP) and Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources(PCRWR) affirm it. These reports said that Pakistan would reach absolute water scarcity by 2025.
Pakistan’s water shortfall will be five times the amount of water stored in the Indus reservoir. It is quite an alarming situation.
Causes of water scarcity in Pakistan
1-Excessive usage of water
The amount of water used in cubic meter per GDP in Pakistan is very high. Pakistan is placed 4th among the countries of the world in this regard. Thus we can say that economy of Pakistan is more water-intensive. A report of the IMF tells that availability of water in Pakistan is 1000 cubic meters per capita. It is close to the water scarcity threshold, which is 1000 cubic meters per capita. It was 1500 cubic meters in 2009.
2-Wastage of water at large scale
A report of WAPDA in the Public accounts committee meeting revealed that water worth 25 billion rupees are wasted per year. A survey said that water worth 21 billion dollars are dumped into the Arabian sea every year. This wastage of water at a massive scale is a significant cause of the water crisis in Pakistan.
3-Incapacity to store water
Pakistan has a relatively low capacity to store water due to a small number of dams. A large amount of water is wasted in the form of floods.
Pakistan can store water, which would meet the needs of 30 days. At the same time, India can hold water, which is sufficient for 320 days.
Pakistan receives 145 million acre-feet water every year. Out of which it can save only 13.7 million acre-feet.And 29 million acre-feet water is wasted in the form of floods due to the unavailability of dams.
The exponential growth rate in Pakistan is also a factor causing the water crisis. At the time of independence, the population was low, and water availability was 5000 cubic meters. Today, it has reduced to 1000 cubic meters due to overpopulation, making it a water scarce country.
According to stats, the population of Pakistan will be 261 million in 2035. It won’t be easy to fulfill the needs of such a vast community. There will be pressure on agriculture to produce food products sufficient for such amount of people. As a result, water scarcity will be more acute as per estimate.
5-Violation of the Indus Water Treaty by India
In 1960, The world bank brokered Indus Water Treaty(IWT). According to this treaty, three western rivers, i-e, Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab, were given under Pakistan’s control. The other three Eastern rivers were given to India.
India violated this treaty by constructing dams over the western rivers which were given to Pakistan. India planted Kishan Ganga hydroelectric plant in IOK, violating the IWT. Moreover, India built Wullar barrage on the Jhelum river and Buglihar dam on the Chenab river, violating Pakistan’s rights under IWT.
Outcomes of water scarcity in Pakistan
1-Threat of nuclear war between Pakistan and India
India has been continuously violating the Indus Water Treaty by constructing dams on western rivers. While it has no right to do so under IWT. So these tensions between India and Pakistan may result in a nuclear war.
2-Destruction of agriculture
Pakistan is an agricultural country. Its economy is mainly dependent upon agriculture. Due to the shortage of water, agriculture will be affected. Because lands of Punjab and Sindh are reliant on canal waters for irrigation. Due to the water crisis, crops of wheat and rice will be badly affected. This will destroy the country’s economy.
3-Shortage of clean water
The shortage of clean water may affect humans as well as animals. Thus it affects the whole biodiversity. As clean water is used for drinking and many other purposes, its shortage directly affects life. We know that life without water is impossible.
Strategies to overcome water scarcity
1-Construction of new dams
The government has always shown a lack of interest and concentration in the construction of new dams. Since 1960, there is no remarkable development in this field.
It is time for the government to make a decision in this regard and construct new dams. There is no more wastage of water in the form of floods; it will conserve water and overcome electricity shortfall.
2-Planning and development
The government must engage HEC, universities, and the planning commission to find possible water scarcity solutions. It will help find solutions to this issue.
3-Take issue of India to the International Court of Justice
India is illegally constructing dams on Pakistan’s rivers under Indus Water Treaty(IWT),1960. The government of Pakistan should take this issue to the International Court of Justice(ICJ) to stop India from committing illegal acts.
4-Bring agriculture under tax net
Ninety percent of Pakistan’s water resources are assigned to the agriculture department. Most of the agriculture department in Pakistan is untaxed. Due to which even maintenance expenditure can not be fulfilled through this small amount. So it is necessary to bring the agriculture department under the tax net.
The water crisis in Pakistan is just like a ticking bomb, which may explode at any time in the future. It is necessary for the government at this time to take notice of this issue. The government must take serious steps to save Pakistan from such kind of disaster.