Water pricing for new dams

The warning is not new, but we are known to act up until a disaster — if at all. The Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) had alerted us Pakistanis far earlier — more than two years ago — that our country will run dry by 2025 if preventive steps were not taken. Despite being blessed with the world’s largest glaciers — numbering in thousands — Pakistan is among 36 most water-stressed countries of the world. And a rapid increase in population — coupled with our strained relations with neighbouring India which is always feared to block flow of water from the Sutlej, Beas and Ravi — must add to the concerns.

Pakistan had touched the ‘water stress line’ in 1990 and had gone on to cross the ‘water scarcity line’ in 2005 — simply for want of coordinated planning on water resource management. A number of standalone initiatives were, and are, there, but a coordinated policy is direly missing. Wastage of water due to the absence of dams is one major defying factor in the context. As regards trans-boundary water, Pakistan is losing legal battles at international arbitration forums due to its inability to conserve water.

Hence, prioritising the construction of dams is the need of the hour — something that a recent meeting, presided over by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, also insisted on. The meeting was attended by representatives of senior representatives of the ministries, the Indus River System Authority, the Indus Water Commission and Wapda, besides private experts. The chief justice suggested water pricing to generate funds for the construction of dams and contended that 25 per cent funds required for a major reservoir could be acquired from people. The top judge sought an action plan from the authorities to address the issue of water scarcity that had reached a level fatal to the lives and livelihood of the citizens of Pakistan.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 17th, 2018.

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    Original news : https://tribune.com.pk/story/1759610/6-water-pricing-new-dams/