Overview of Water Resources in Pakistan

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Overview of water resources in Pakistan
The total land area of Pakistan is approximately 310,322 square miles or 88 million hectares of land, of which approximately 20 million heaters are used for agriculture purposes.

The river system of Indus and its tributaries provides Pakistan some of the most fertile land in the Indian subcontinent.

Under the Indus Water Basin Treaty of 1960 three eastern rivers namely: Sutlej, Beas and Ravi were allocated to India for its exclusive use. The Treaty gives Pakistan control over the western rivers namely: the Indus, Jhelum and Chenab. India has also been allowed to develop 13,43,477 acres of irrigated cropped area on the western rivers without any restriction on the quantum of water to be utilised.

India has already developed 7,85,789, acres for which 6.75 MAF has been used. Thus, for the remaining area of 5,75,678 acres, 4.79 MAF would be required on pro rata basis.

The water availability in our rivers is highly erratic and unreliable. The highest annual water availability in the recorded history 1922 todate was 186.79 MAF (million acre feet) in the year 1959-60 as against the minimum of 95.99 MAF in the year 2001-2002.

This includes the Kabul River contribution. The Kabul River contributes a maximum of 34.24 MAF and a minimum of 12.32 MAF with an annual average of about 20.42 MAF to Indus main.


We have entered into 21st century with world's largest and unified irrigation system that consists of three major reservoirs (Chashma, Mangla, and Tarbela); 19 barrages (Ferozepur, Sulemanki, Islam, Balloki, Marala, Trimmu, Panjnad, Kalabagh, Sukkur, Kotri, Taunsa, Guddu, Chashma, Mailsi, Balloki, Sidhnai, Rasul, Qadirabad, and Marala); 12 link canals; 45 irrigation canals; and over 107,000 water courses and millions of farm channels & field ditches. The total length of main canal system is estimated about 585000 Kilometer (36932 miles) and that of watercourses & field channels exceeds 1.62 million Kilometers (over 1.02 million miles).

Surface water resources: At the time of independence, we had about 67 MAF water available for diversion, this amount increased to about 85 MAF by the year 1960. At this juncture, the right of three eastern rivers (Beas, Sutlej, and Ravi) was given to India under Irrigation Water Treaty 1960, during this period, Indus Basin Project (IBP) was implemented with international assistance of the Wold Bank. IBP enabled Pakistan to acquire significant capability of river flow regulation through integrated system. By the dint of river regulation-cum-storage facilities of IBP and other irrigation developments on the river Indus, canal diversions progressively increased and peaked to about 108 MAF Ground water resources: The Indus plains constitute about 34 million hectares (over 85 million acres) of cultivable land, which is under-lain predominantly by sand alluvium to a considerable depth. Annual recharge to ground water system of this Indus plain is estimated around 55 MAF, out of which about 48 MAF is within the commands of Indus basin irrigation system (IBIS). Presently, 39 MAF is being extracted annually. Ground water is also found in some rain-fed (Barani) lands, and inter-mountain valleys at depths varying from 100 to 200 ft. Future of water resources and needs: One of the key issues to Pakistan is the growing population pressure, which is responsible for driving its water resource development. It has the world's fastest growing population that has surpassed the 140 million mark by now and is still increasing at an alarming rate of around 2.8%, which needs to be checked, whereas the growth rate in agriculture sector remains somehow lower than the demand due to limiting irrigation water. To...
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