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Pakistan – more reservoirs are urgently needed in face of growing water crisis

Sheikh Amir Waheed, President of the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry has called upon the Pakistan government to focus on urgent construction of water reservoirs in the country to ensure achieving sustainable economic growth.

The President said that as an agriculture economy, Pakistan was heavily dependent on water resources, but according to a recent report of IMF, Pakistan was 3rd among the countries facing rising water shortage, which should be a cause of concern for policymakers.

He said the rising water crisis could jeopardize the economic future of the country, highlighting the fall in per capita water availability in Pakistan from  5260 cubic meters  in 1951 to 940 cubic meters in 2015. He warned that if no urgent measures were taken for water reservoirs, per capita water availability would further reduce to an alarming 860 cubic meters by 2025 in the country.

Sheikh Amir Waheed said that according to a report by the Pakistan Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) report, due to lack of water reservoirs, Pakistan was wasting water worth Rs.25 billion every year. Pakistani rivers were receiving average annual inflow of 145 million acre feet of water out of which only 14 million acre feet were preserved while the rest was going waste.

During the last 70 years, only two major dams have been built in Pakistan – which showed that successive governments paid no attention to build water reserves in the country. He said China has built over 87000 dams while India has built around 3200 dams, but Pakistan has built only 150 dams of 15-meter height which were insufficient to store water of required quantity.

According to Sheikh Amir Waheed, the underground water tables are rapidly going down in Pakistan and if water reserves are not built on an urgent basis, the economic growth of the country will suffer badly. He described government spending of just 7 % of development funds on the water sector as insufficient and stressed that at least 20% of development funds should be spent on the sector to improve water security.

At its last meeting the Chamber of Commerce & Industry agreed to adopt the National Water Policy and stressed that urgent measures should be taken by the federal and provincial governments to achieve the targets set in the policy for building water reserves and curbing wastage of water so the country could achieve water security and ensure sustainable economic growth.

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