Lead 2013-04-26Sidra Saif

ISLAMABAD: While hurling a serious caution about the fast evaporation of potable water in South Asia particularly Pakistan, which is negatively impacting the social life patterns, a national consultative workshop stressed on revision of the institutional architecture of the water sector. They also warned that after 20 years Pakistan would be in tougher circumstances if solid steps are not taken to secure its water sources and overcome this crisis, the institutions must have the capacity as well as legal cover.

The workshop Pakistan Water Programme has recently been organized in Islamabad by IUCN Pakistan in collaboration with Oxfam-Novib with an aim to discuss the key issues the country is confronted in terms of depleting water resources.

“Clean drinking water issue has gained a serious proportionate across the world and its availability should be of highest priority as it the foundation of life and a basic human need,” said Iftikhar Khalid, Associate Country Director Oxfam Novib, while sharing his concerns regarding water scarcity in Pakistan. He, however, said that yet today, too many people in Pakistan spend their entire day searching for potable water.

IUCN Pakistan, the part of the IUCNs Asia Regional Programme, is implementing several conservation initiatives across the country through institutional strengthening, policy advocacy and field work. Currently, there are 32 active members of IUCN in Pakistan, including the government of Pakistan as the state member, seven government agencies and 23 NGOs.

Shams-ul-Mulk, President SOPREST, talked about the Indus Water Treaty and its significance in the present times and called for revising the institutional architecture of the water sector. “Water is not oil, it is not gas, it has no substitutes, it cannot be imported, therefore, it is needed to sustain life,” he added.

He pointed out that about 70 per cent of water is allocated to Sindh, 20 per cent to Punjab 6 per cent Balochistan and 4 per cent to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. However, Pakistans water discords are not only provincial but also regional.

According to Dr. Amir Mohammad, Rector, National University of Computer and Emerging Sciences, Islamabad (FAST-NU), water zones should be marked according to the cropping patterns and in terms of maximum underground water availability and classified according to water efficiency.

In his closing remarks, chief guest Javed Jabbar, agreeing that the issue of water is more serious than ever, said that this issue needs to be taken up as a top priority by the governing bodies. The federal, provincial and local government agencies should create awareness among masses on water related issue mitigation measures, he said.

“All relevant ministries, provincial and local government departments and agencies will develop educational programmes and will also devise plans, programmes and projects to implement the policy provisions,” said Jabbar.

Mahmood Akhtar Cheema, Country Representative IUCN Pakistan, commenced the event with his welcome remarks and stressed on the importance of water in daily life and cooperation with neighbouring countries on the matter.

Javed Malik, Member Food and Agriculture, Planning Commission, talked about how controlling population patterns and migration can aid water resource management. The Ministry of Environment has formulated the national drinking water policy to provide adequate quantity to safe drinking water to the entire population at an affordable cost and in an equitable, efficient and sustainable manner.

“There is no such thing as wastage of water as all water should utilized,” said Dr. Shahid Ahmed while talking about the political obstacles in terms of power and royalty and how Pakistan has lost 30 years of development. He said that no solution is possible without strong provincial consensus.

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