Islamabad Politics Report/Moazzam Raza Tabassam: Senate Standing Committee on Water in its meeting was told that average per capita water availability decreased around 5000 cubic meters to 903 cubic meters during last 67 years in Pakistan.
Meeting was told that any country that has 1000 cubic meter water available per capita is categorized in water scarce countries and per capita water availability in Pakistan at present in 903 cubic meters. This average per capita water availability was around 5000 cubic meters back in 1951.
The meeting was held under the chairmanship of Senator ShamimAfridi here at the Parliament House on Wednesday and was attended among others by Senators Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo, Dr. JahanzebJamaldini, Syed Sabir Shah, QurratulAinMarri, Agha ShahzebDurrani, Gianchand, Syed ShibliFaraz, Chairman WAPDA Lt. Gen. (R)ChaudhryMuzamil, Chairman IRSA Ahmed Jamal, Members IRSA from all provinces and other officials.
The committee was told that out of 35,409 Million Acre feet (MAF) reservoirs in the whole world,1,577 MAF are in South Asia and only 145 MAF in Pakistan. Chairman WAPDA in his briefing told the meeting that 25-35% of our water comes from rains and 65-75% from glaciers in the Northern parts. He observed that 60% of our population is directly engaged in agriculture and livestock and despite being included in 15 most water scarce countries, Pakistan has one of the most water intensive agriculture with fourth highest use of water rate. 90% of country’s water is used in agriculture and the need of the hour is to take this matter up in the Council of Common Interests as to how overuse of water in irrigation can be reduced and use the same for domestic needs.
Chairman WAPDA while giving an analysis of water reservoirs told the meeting that Pakistan has a total of 155 dams against 5102 dams of India and carry over capacity of Pakistan is just 30 days against 170 days’ capacity of India. He remarked that Pakistan needs to narrow the huge gap between the growing population and its needs and the number and capacity of water reservoirs.
Talking about the Indus Cascade, he termed it the most precious asset for the country. He told that the Indus enters Pakistan at an altitude of 8430 feet and gives us a drop of 7030 feet till kalabagh at an altitude of 1400 feet giving us multiple sites along the stretch for building reservoirs and run of the river projects.
The Committee was given an account of the projects under process by WAPDA which include kachi canal (PH-1) commissioned in September 2017, NaiGaj Dam to be completed by June 2019, Muzaffargarh& TP link Canal to be completed by June 2019 and RBOD-I and III to be completed by November 2019. RBOD-II is to be worked upon by Sindh Government and not WAPDA.
The Committee was given details of short term, medium term and long term water reservoirs and run of the river hydro power projects to meet futuristic needs of the country. These include reservoirs and hydropower projects inNaiGaj, Naulong, Bara, Tank Zam, DiamerBasha, Mohamand, KurramTangi II, Chiniot, Shyok, Dhudhnial, Skardu, Akhori, Rohtas and other small and big dams.
Chairman and members of the Committee assured WAPDA and IRSA of all out support for approvals and work on any and all projects for welfare of the people.