Back in 2016, a report by Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) warned that the country will approach absolute water scarcity by 2025.The report said that the country touched the ‘water stress line’ in 1990 and crossed the ‘water scarcity line’ in 2005, predicting that If this situation continues, then chances are high the country will face acute water shortage or drought-like situation in the near future.
The unpredictable weather this year and the prolonged heat wave in many cities has made it amply clear that Pakistan faces a challenge on its hands as far as environmental issues, including water scarcity are concerned. On Monday, a three-judge Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar directed the federal government to furnish a comprehensive report on reduced flow of the Neelum River because of the construction of the Kishanganga dam. The court had taken up a petition seeking its directive for construction of dams, including Kalabagh dam. During the hearing, the Chief Justice said that from now on the biggest priority of the court would be water and the court would hear matters relating to the scarcity of water and lack of initiative to build dams on Saturday in Karachi, on Sunday in Lahore and later in Islamabad, Peshawar and Quetta.
Despite having one of the best irrigation networks in the world, Pakistan has for long neglected water conservation and addition to the available water storage infrastructure. With effects of global warming on becoming more visible with every passing day, Pakistan’s negligence when it comes to the water sector has put it in a dangerous position. A United Nations Development Programme report released last year said that rising temperatures, increasing saltwater intrusion in coastal areas, a growing threat of glacier lake outburst floods, more intense rainfall, and changes in monsoon and winter rainfall patterns are just some of the ways in which climate change is expected to affect Pakistan’s hydrologic resources. These risks amplify an already problematic situation given that Pakistan is among the most water stressed countries in the world. Per capita access to surface and groundwater sources is expected to continue to decline in the decades ahead, driven largely by rapid population growth and urbanization. The potential for climate change to affect water flows within the Indus Basin is the most serious concern. Pakistan will need to form both long and short term policies regarding its water sector and work on emergency footing to improve and add to the water infrastructure in the country.
Potential for climate change to affect water flows within Indus Basin is a serious concern.
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