Indeed, it is very troubling news that major reservoirs of the country including Mangla, Tarbela and Chashma have reached a dead level, which can lead to a major water crisis in the country. Despite the fact that June is always a month of peak inflows, this is an alarming situation for Pakistan, where more than 50 percent of the population is food insecure. It seems that the government, policymakers and even the concerned provincial officials are complacent with the problem of water scarcity, which is likely to get worse if proper measures are not taken. There are certain factors responsible for the crisis. According to official figures, Pakistan has a total of 210 Million Acre Feet (MAF) of water of which 70 MAF is underground, and the remaining 140 MAF is called available runoff water. Pakistan utilises only 12.5 percent of the available water. Resultantly, at present, the country is facing a shortage of 40 MAF. It is estimated that in 2025, the shortage will reach 150 MAF. Water consumption habits are also worsening the situation. The situation is bleak in urban areas where thousands of tubewells are pumping out water on a daily basis and the water level is dropping alarmingly. No one bothers about the wastage of water during our daily domestic chores. Unplanned urbanisation is causing a dearth of water in Punjab and Sindh. The government needs to understand that urban planning is a science.
Rapid urbanisation requires a complete set of scientific rules and a modern approach to tackle the challenges of the increasing population and its needs in big cities. Citizens also have a role to play. They need to change their habit of wasting this natural asset. Water is a precious gift of God and it needs to be used as per requirements. We need to conserve water and use it as per our needs while saving every single drop of water. In Pakistan, a large quantity of water is wasted every year due to flash floods and the use of outdated irrigational methods. The country has an agriculture-based economy but the apathy of successive governments towards this sector has left the problem unattended for decades. The weather patterns in Pakistan are still relatively predictable, and a huge amount of rainwater is received every year, but no reservoir or innovative methods are in application to store rainwater that goes waste. To end water scarcity in the region for good and reduce expenditures, farmers must learn to adapt their water usage and employ new techniques for conserving the common but precious resource. There is a need to pay attention to water development and management. New reservoirs should be built in areas that are hit by flash floods every year. A consensus should be built for the formulation of a proper water policy that could help ward off an imminent water crisis.