EMERGING WATER CRISIS AND ITS IMPACT ON PAKISTAN
Water in general and fresh water in particular is essential for sustaining quality of life on earth. This commodity has a direct bearing on almost all sectors of economy. In Pakistan, its importance is more than ordinary due to the agrarian nature of the economy. Share of agriculture in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Pakistan, though reduced since 1970, is now estimated at about 24%. Agriculture is also the major user of water, yet in many parts of Pakistan, the very survival of the people depends on the timely and adequate availability of water. With rising demands, the aridity index of the country is adding further to the significance of water in any developmental activity in Pakistan. Though, once a water surplus country due to huge water resources of the Indus River System, Pakistan is fast becoming a water deficit country. The present annual per capita water availability in Pakistan is about 920 cubic metres, which is far below the minimum recommended level of 2000 cubic meters. 2.
As an outcome of the Indus Water Treaty, Pakistan had undertaken an ambitious and elaborate water storage strategy and created large water storage reservoirs to guard against the vagaries of weather. However, poor water shed management and ill planning over the years has caused large amount of silt to accumulate in these reservoirs reducing their storage capacity. At the same time, with no new projects coming up coupled with increased cropping intensities actual available water has now become scarce. The country today clearly faces severe water shortage. The gap between demand and supply of water has actually increased to levels, which is creating unrest among the federating units. On the other hand conditions of drought over the last four years have further reduced fresh water supplies. Consequently, the policy makers with the engineering community are in a state of war to find proper and implementable solutions to this looming national crisis.
To analyze the emerging water crisis and its impact on Pakistan with a view to suggest appropriate long term and short term measures to manage this critical situation.
PAKISTAN’S EXISTING WATER RESOURCE AND ITS MANAGEMENT
In 1960, Indus Water Treaty was signed with India. This treaty gave exclusive right of use of water of three rivers (Ravi, Beas and Sutlej) to India whereas exclusive right of use of Indus, Chenab and Jhelum was given to Pakistan. This resulted in construction of nine link canals five new barrages and three dams (Mangla, Tarbela and Warsak). The vast irrigation system of Pakistan today, comprises of three major storage reservoirs, 19 barrages or head works, 44 main canals with a conveyance length of 57,000 kilometres, and 89,000 water courses with running length of more than 1.65 million kilometres. Out of the 44 canal commands, 24 canal commands are located in Punjab, 5 in NWFP and 15 in Sindh/ Baluchistan. This vast irrigation system feeds more than 40 million acres of irrigated land in Pakistan a country with the highest irrigated and rain-fed land ratio in the world , i.e. 4:1. 5.
Review of Existing Water Resources
Rainfall is the major source of surface water. Average annual rainfall is about 238 mm which is equivalent to about 150MAF. b.
The annual flow volumes of entire system, i.e. Indus at Kalabagh, Jhelum at Mangla and Chenab at Marala, range from a minimum of 97 MAF to a maximum of 186 MAF based on records covering a 44 year period from 1956-57 to 1999-2000. These flows are concentrated in the Kharif season and nearly 83% of the system flows occur during the period of April through September. The peak flows occur in the month of July ranging from 20 MAF to 40 MAF. Indus River on the average yields about 138.7 MAF of water annually. It is worth mentioning that the Indus River alone provides 65% of total river flows, while the share of...
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