ISLAMABAD: The All Pakistan Business Forum (APBF) President Ibrahim Qureshi on Saturday urged the government to declare water emergency as the country might face a severe crisis in 10 years if steps were not taken to enhance the storage capacity.
The APBF President, in a statement here, observed that the Indus River System Authority (IRSA) had constantly been warning the government on the water scarcity and all the allocations of PSDP should be spent only on enhancing the water storage capacity.
Pakistan would have to develop both mega and small dams to store water if it wanted to avert the water crisis in the coming years, he added.
He said the water shortage had not only caused undue damage to the agriculture sector but to the manufacturing sector as well. “We cannot waste more time and the government should pave way for early construction of the Kalabagh Dam (KBD), which is the only solution to overcome water and electricity shortage.”
He said that Pakistan’s economy was based on the agriculture sector and could not survive without insufficient water resources.
Ibrahim Qureshi said that KBD was the most suitable project for the national economy as it would not only produce cheap and sufficient electricity but would also avert the devastation caused by the floods. It would also help alleviate poverty. Those, who opposed its construction, were playing with the country’s future, he added.
He regretted that no water policy had been announced for the last 16 years. Devising of a proper policy was important as it would define the roles of different stakeholders, including federation and provinces, he added.
He said that with 14 per cent water shortage estimated for the Rabi season, the Indus River System Authority had asked the government to move towards building dams on an urgent basis to avoid loss of billions of rupees every year.
He said wastage of one million acres feet (MAF) of water was estimated to cause an economic loss of Rs 60 billion. About 36 MAF water had gone into the sea last season, including about 8.6 MAF which was required to flow below the Kotri barrage for environmental reasons. That meant over 27 MAF water had been wasted in just one season that was equivalent to the storage capacity of three big dams, he added.
Qureshi said that IRSA had been asking the government for long to take decisive initiatives towards building new dams. It had also written to the government to divert all development funds towards building new dams as a national emergency but government is not serious in this regard.
He said that the government should move swiftly to build Kalabagh and Bhasha dams simultaneously and construct Munda dam for long-term protection of lives and properties in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Nowshera region. These dams, he added, should have been built in the 80s and 90s but over three decades had lapsed without building even one.