The looming water scarcity in the country is a cause of great concern. The situation is turning bleak with every passing day. According to the Pakistan Metrological Department, the water situation is worsening and a drought-like situation may be experienced in some areas of Balochistan and upper parts of Sindh in the coming days. The early arrival of summer has already exacerbated the situation while the water supplies from catchment areas are decreasing due to climate change.
It can result into a reduced water supply to provinces. In fact, a delay in the construction of a major reservoir or dam has started yielding negative results. Since independence, the successive governments remained unable to utilise their water resources. Although, Pakistan is rich in mineral resources the people are far away from their basic requirements such as electricity and water. 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 the 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, which too will take time for completion. The construction of big dams is also dependent on the availability of funding, which is not an easy task. The looming water crisis is also a result of climate change that is responsible for the shrinking of the glaciers of the Himalayas – the biggest reservoir of fresh water in the world. Faulty downstream management leads to further wastage. Though seepage replenishes the aquifer, it also reduces water availability.
Traditional irrigation methods add to water woes. Instead of using water as per the seasonal crop demand, farmers are in the habit of inundating fields, which causes a lot of water wastage. The most effective and modern irrigation drip sprinkler system is not common.
The government needs to 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. The government should take the latest warning about water scarcity seriously and start efforts for preserving water for our present and future needs. There is a need to pay attention to water development and management. The government should pay attention to the water needs of the country and employ innovative methods that can help ward off scarcity and severe droughts. 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.