Chairman Indus River System Authority (Irsa) during an emergency meeting to review the water availability revised Pakistan’s water shortage estimate upward by 36 percent from 20 percent for the rabi season 2017.
This implies Punjab would get 12.6 million acre feet (instead of 15.72) and Sindh 9.5 MAF (instead of 11.86) with no change in the water share in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.
Punjab continues to be the major producer of most crops, including wheat, rice, sugarcane and cotton followed by Sindh and needless to add the decline in availability of water would have negative implications on total farm output.
The IMF report further claims that Pakistan has the world’s fourth highest rate of water use and is already the third most water-stressed country in the world – statistics that should be a source of shame to the Musharraf, Zardari, Nawaz Sharif and the Abbasi administrations given their lack of focus on constructing reservoirs as well as taking other appropriate measures to deal with the situation that is assuming crisis proportions.
Pakistan’s water resources, according to readily available research, are being degraded due to pollution, atrophy, overuse of surface water and over-exploitation of groundwater and "large tracts of land have been rendered uncultivable due to water logging and salinity, direct results of mismanaged irrigation.
Unsafe drinking water is responsible for numerous diseases including dysentery, diarrhoea, typhoid, cholera, malaria and gastroenteritis.
UNICEF estimates that 200,000 children in Pakistan die annually due to diarrhoeal diseases alone".
During a recent Public Accounts Committee meeting, Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) Chairman Lieutenant-General Muzamil Hussain (retd) acknowledged that Pakistan wastes 25 billion rupee worth of water every year and that while we receive 145 MAF each year we preserve only 14 MAF.
He further contended that soil collection at the base of Tarbela Dam has compromised its storage capacity by 36 percent and noted that the construction of Diamer Bhasha dam was therefore critical.
Mention was also made of the controversial Kalabagh dam plan as a means to deal with the water shortage, which understandably accounted for considerable anger amongst those from the smaller provinces who argued that only non-controversial projects should be supported.