ACCORDING TO a recently report, a sit-in by farmers for water disrupted the main line rail traffic between Karachi and Lahore. The farmers were protesting against the shortage of water in Badin district which is creating drought-like conditions in the region, forcing farmers families to migrate from the area.
The Tarbela Dam was commissioned in 1975, about 38 years ago, increasing canal supplies by 25 per cent. Total withdrawal in canals went up from 83 million acre feet to 103 maf. Of the 20 maf increase, Sindh got 7 maf, with which it was able to cultivate an additional 2.7 million acres. This is a verifiable data.
River flows do not increase by themselves, but population does. While there has been no increase in supplies over the last 38 years, the population has increased from 80 million to 190 million over the same period with no end in sight.
There has been a corresponding increase in the demand for irrigation water. But supply is unable to meet demand. The water that was sufficient to feed 80 million people cannot be sufficient to feed 190 million people.
The result is severe shortage of water all over the country which, left to itself, will only get worse instead of getting better.
There is a dire need to educate public opinion on this issue on which depends the survival of the country. Who will do it is yet to be decided?
Engr Khurshid Anwer @Lahore

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