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Saturday, January 28, 2023
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Fair distribution of water

The provincial governments are once again at loggerheads over the distribution of water among provinces. Lately, the construction of Jalalpur Canal and Greater Thal Canal’s Phase-II is the bone of contention between Punjab and Sindh. The Sindh government is opposing the construction of both canals while the Punjab irrigation minister claims that the project entails great strategic and political importance. In fact, a delay in the construction of a major reservoir or dam has started yielding negative results. The Sindh government has always complained about unfair cut in its water share and stressed the need for ensuring availability of water to Sindh.

Regrettably, 75 years of independence have passed but the federal government is still unable to utilise its water resources in a fair manner. Pakistan is highly dependent on agriculture which in turn is dependent on water. The problem of water can be solved only when the decision makers forget their personal interests and think for Pakistan. Instead of arguing with each other about previous water accords, the main thing is availability and storage of water. All stakeholders should put their energies to build water reservoirs. Due to controversies over the building of the Kalabagh Dam on the River Indus, now the government has turned to the construction of the Bhasha-Diamer Dam and Mohmand Dam but their completion will take time. Meanwhile, the government can build small water storage structures to recharge groundwater. Collecting rainwater to recharge the aquifer is also a good option. Farmers should be imparted awareness on how to more efficiently use limited water to boost food production while conserving water sources.

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It is very troubling to note that the federal government has miserably failed in formulating a water policy for the country that could be acceptable to all provinces. There is a need to pay attention to water development and management. New reservoirs must be built in areas that are hit by flash floods every year. It is time for the government to recognise its responsibilities and start taking steps in the right direction. A consensus must be built for the formulation of a proper water policy that could help ward off an imminent water crisis.

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