March 2020




 By HAMID WALEED on March 26, 2020

Pakistan will touch the absolute water scarcity line by 2025 if population continues to grow at the present rate and continual stress on water resources remains unabated, said a research conducted by the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR).

The report pointed out that it is true that our irrigation system is one of the largest, but the fact remains that it is not one of the best managed. Therefore, water scarcity stands out as the most important issue.

According to Dr Muhammad Ashraf, Chairman PCRWR, Pakistan will only be left with 500 cubic meters per person per day in any such situation. “We have already touched water scarcity line in 2004-2005. A few current initiatives to counter this issue include the establishment of a dam fund by the Supreme Court of Pakistan and the approval of National Water Policy 2018,” he added.

Some other experts are of the view that Pakistan had almost lost 90MAF of water in the aftermath of recurring floods in 2010, 2011 and 2014.

As per the World Bank, saving 1 MAF of water means saving US$1 billion. The loss extends to massive devastating effects on agriculture, livestock, human life, and infrastructure. The root cause of this issue is the inadequate water storage facility. The water received in wet years transforms into floods instead of being saved. Almost 0.2 MAF of water is lost per year to sedimentation in storage reservoirs, said Engineer Suleman Najeeb Khan, an expert on dams, adding that Pakistan has so far lost 6 MAF. He said Pakistan has more than 18 MAF water in unutilized potential.

Dr Ashraf said non-conventional water practices result in low water productivity. In the absence of sufficient surface water, he said, reliance increases on groundwater, whose water table is depleting at more than 26 canal commands. In urban areas such as Lahore and Islamabad, water table is reducing at an annual rate of 1 meter per year while in Quetta it is around 6 meters per year.

He said Quetta faces an additional challenge of the exhaustion of groundwater for general consumption to the extent of puncturing the hard rock for fossil water.

He said due to the lack of water regulatory framework, anyone in Pakistan can install tube wells of any size and can pump any amount of water. He said rich farmers are taking the most advantage of such a state of affairs. They pump water and sell it to poor farmers who cannot dig a tube well for their own use. In order to reduce the gap between water supply and demand, almost 10 MAF of drainage affluent and 6 MAF of waste water needs to be managed.

He said in terms of governance, ground and surface water provided to farmers, industries, and domestic consumers is almost free, at less than one dollar per acre per year. According to him, a model can be followed for establishing industries for maintaining a sustainable water level for a longer period. If the water level is 100 feet at the time of an industry’s foundation, it should stay the same in the next 10 or 15 years. The industry will either reduce the extraction or will have to increase charges in those areas. The water table will otherwise deplete in about 15 years and the industry will shift elsewhere, he warned.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020



The Newspaper’s Staff Reporter Updated March 09, 2020

LAHORE: The Punjab Aab-e-Pak Authority and Lahore Institute of Public Health (Trust) on Sunday inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for activation of 54 filtration plants in Lahore before Ramazan.

The MoU was signed by Commissioner Lahore division Saif Anjum, authority CEO/Wasa MD Syed Zahid Aziz and Trustee of Lahore Institute of Public Health Mian Ahsan at the Governor’s House.

Speaking at a news conference after the MoU signing ceremony, Governor Chaudhry Sarwar, who is also patron of the authority, said no institution or NGO could install any filtration plant without prior approval of Punjab Aab-e-Pak Authority.

He said the authority was authorised to impose fine and up to two-year imprisonment upon those selling substandard water.

Governor says no institution or NGO can install filtration plant without approval of Aab-e-Pak Authority

Mr Sarwar said the Punjab Aab-e-Pak Authority had public (official) filtration plants worth Rs9 billion. He said the authority was currently working on activating maximum number of non-functional filtration plants with the support of philanthropists. He said this initiative was being started from Lahore and “we had also started restoration of filtration plants under Punjab Aab-e-Pak Authority in Faisalabad and Sargodha divisions.

The governor promised that the authority would fulfill the promise of provision of clean drinking water to the people in five years and it was being ensured that people should get international standard water.

The governor said the authority had compiled the lists of functional and non-functional filtration plants in Punjab including Lahore. He said the non-functional filtration plants were being restored speedily.

Lahore Institute of Public Health trustee Mian Ahsan said the trust would be able to work with the Aab-e-Pak Authority with more confidence that the philanthropists money be spent transparently and in the right direction.

Punjab Aab-e-Pak Authority chairman retired Gen Ahmed Nawaz Saleem Mela claimed the authority was rendering unprecedented service of provision of clean drinking water and there was complete transparency in this project. “We are executing the work of years in months because we as per our promise will provide clean drinking water to people of Punjab at all costs,” he said.

Published in Dawn, March 9th, 2020


By RECORDER REPORT on March 9, 2020

The provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has introduced a draft legislative bill in the provincial assembly for establishment of water resources commission and water resources regulatory authority to manage, regulate water resources in the interest of the conservation and sustainability.

The proposed Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Water Resource Commission will be comprised of 19 members with Chief Minister of the province as chairman.

The members would be included Ministers for Environment, Public Health Engineering, Agriculture, Industries, Irrigation. Local government, Chief Secretary, Secretaries irrigation, local government, environment, agriculture, health, finance, Public Health Engineering, two water experts, one each experts on environment, Public health, president, Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) and Director General of the Commission.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020


By RECORDER REPORT on March 11, 2020

Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar said on Tuesday that the government is focusing on construction of small dams which will protect thousands of acres of land from getting barren.

“With the construction of dams and water reservoirs, the underground water level will rise besides fulfilling the needs of potable water,” the CM said while holding a meeting on construction of small water reservoirs. The secretary irrigation gave a detailed briefing to the chief minister about the small dams.

The CM was informed about the project of constructions of protective spurs and ponds in various cities of the province.

While addressing the meeting, the CM said that seven small dams in Dera Ghazi Khan and six in Rajanpur will be constructed for storage of water in hill torrents areas. Protective spurs will be constructed with the cost of over Rs. 600 million.

It was informed in the meeting that four ponds will also be constructed for the provision of potable water and for irrigation purposes in Dera Ghazi Khan. Protective spurs will be constructed at the bank of river Sindh at Gaajni in order to provide clean drinking water to Rawalpindi. Dhodcha dam will be constructed at a cost of Rs 6 billion.

It was further informed that Chahan dam will be constructed at a cost of Rs 1.56 billion. Construction of Mohata dam will irrigate 4500 acres of land. Whereas Papan dam completed at a cost of Rs 53 million will irrigate 15000 acres of land. Similarly, Mohrah Shera dam constructed at a cost of Rs 680 million will irrigate 4000 acres land in Chakwal. Pandori dam in Jhelum constructed at a cost of Rs 950 million will irrigate 1500 acres of land.

Further, Surah dam will be completed at the cost of Rs 910 million. Taja Bara dam in Attock will be completed with a sum of Rs 200 million which will irrigate 300 acres of land. Sidrayal dam will be completed at a cost of Rs 100 million and irrigate 825 acres of land. Taman dam in Talagang will be completed at a cost Rs 1.5 billion. Ghibbar dam will be completed at the sum of 5.65 billion rupees. Completion of Project of Dharabi dam in Chakwal will irrigate 6400 acres of land. This project will be completed with the sum of Rs 340 million, the meeting was informed.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020


A Correspondent March 12, 2020

BADIN: A large number of farmers and activists of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl took out rallies and staged demonstrations in Golarchi and Tando Bago towns on Wednesday to register protest against a nagging water shortage in most irrigation outlets and canals in the district.

JUI-F leaders Maulana Fateh Mohammad, Jamaluddin Zaur, Mohammad Ishaq Mehri and others who led the protest in Golarchi told journalists that farmers and residents of the towns had been facing the worst water crisis for several months, forcing people to drink highly contaminated water.

They said that the situation in coastal belt of the taluka was the worst since there was no water in the area and people had to walk miles even for brackish and contaminated water. Officials of Sindh Irrigation and Drainage Authority and irrigation department were the least concerned about their problem, they said.

They warned they would widen their protest if water was not released into their outlets within the next few days.

Farmers and peasants also gathered outside Tando Bago press club to register their protest against a persistent water shortage in their respective areas and illegal blockages in Sultani Wah.

Saif Jarwar, Mohammad Kumbhar, Abdul Aleem Kakepoto and other leaders of farmers said that no amount of water was being released into their waterways.

They demanded removal of blockages erected at RD-82 and 75 in Sultani Wah by influential growers in connivance with irrigation officials to steal their share of water.

Mir Noor Ahmed Talpur, Khalil Ahmed Bhurgari, Azizullah Dero and other leaders of Save Badin Action Committee said in a joint statement that the entire district faced the worst water crisis again this year even when there was enough water in the system.

Published in Dawn, March 12th, 2020


By ​ Our Correspondent Published: March 14, 2020

QUETTA: The Water Commission that was constituted by the apex court in 2018 has submitted its final report to the government of Balochistan after finalizing its recommendations regarding early completion of water supply schemes in different areas of the province.

“The commission has fulfilled its duty and submitted its final report. Now Balochistan chief secretary is bound to present the report before the SC at upcoming hearing of the case on April 26,” Water Commission chairman Amanullah Kanrani told a press conference on Wednesday.

The Supreme Court on December 14, 2018 constituted a two-member commission to probe non-availability of clean drinking water in Bolan district of Balochistan and ordered the commission to submit its report in two weeks.

The court had appointed the Supreme Court Bar Association’s former president Kanrani as the head of the commission that also included Engineer Osman Babai. Irrigation and other departments had also been ordered to provide full support to the commission.

A three-member bench, led by former chief justice of Pakistan (CJ) Mian Saqib Nisar, had formed the commission during a hearing of a suo motu case. The apex court had taken suo motu notice after a video on social media showed that residents of Bolan’s Bhagnari area did not have access to clean water.

Before submission of the final report, the commission submitted two reports after reviewing water supply systems in different areas.

Kanrani said an SC bench comprising CJ Gulzar Ahmed, Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Sijjad Ali Shah directed the government on February 26 to submit the final report through the chief secretary after revisiting and redressing the shortcomings.

“All the authorities concerned have been directed by the court to implement the report,” he said.

Describing irregularities that were noticed while compiling the recommendations, he said water issue in Gwadar could be resolved in Rs8 million by fixing the pipeline from Mirani Dam.

“But unfortunately a tanker mafia is involved which with the help of some bigwigs is providing water to locals in Rs1.5 per litre instead of actual cost Re0.25,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 14th, 2020.



By ​ Our Correspondent Published: March 3, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The recent extreme measures such as scrapping of articles 370 and 35A of Indian constitution in Kashmir and introduction of Citizen Amendment Bill (CAB), the Modi-led ultra-nationalist Indian regime can also threaten the decades-old Indus Water Treaty between India and Pakistan, which could have dire consequences for regional peace.

Experts expressed these views during the launch of a book titled “Readings in Indus Basin disputes between India and Pakistan: An Academic Selection of Articles, Commentaries, Newspaper Reports, Legal Texts and Arbitral Awards 1948-2018,” organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) at Islamabad.

Barrister Naseem Ahmed Bajwa, editor of the book, said that at the time of signing the Indus Water Treaty, Pakistan’s bargaining power was weak, particularly on legal grounds, as the treaty was mainly based on Indian proposed draft, whereas India, which in the context of Kashmir dispute controlled most of Kashmir, was in a strong bargaining position being an upper riparian state.

He said, unfortunately, at that time Pakistan was ruled by a military dictator (1958-1970) who was accountable to no one. The signing of the treaty in 1960, was an arbitrary decision made by the military dictator, which was not discussed, debated or scrutinised by any independent forum of engineers or statesmen or journalists in Pakistan, he lamented.

Bajwa said that Pakistan loses its cases at international forums mainly due to poor planning and sending those people or experts who know little and are ill-prepared to fight the country’s case.

SDPI Executive Director Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri said water for Pakistan is one of the future geostrategic issues and the launch of book on Indus Basin dispute is very timely.

He said that the book provided an excellent synthesis of water issues, current standings and legal and other related implications. The facts in the book provided the balanced picture of water disputes between India and Pakistan, he added.

Noted Water Expert and SDPI Board of Governors Chairperson former ambassador Shafqat Kakakhel said that with over 700 hundred official documents, research articles and legal texts the book is a tremendous effort and would benefit the researchers working on the subject.

He said that Pakistan depends on only the Indus River Basin for all its water needs, whereas India has access to eight river basins and Afghanistan has access to five. This shows the level of significance and importance of the Indus Basin for Pakistan. He said Indus basin aquifer is the world’s 2nd largest endangered aquifer after Arabian Aquifer System, mainly due to exhaustive groundwater extraction for irrigation, industrial and domestic needs.

There are 1.7 million tube-wells in Pakistan and around 11 million in India, which are seriously putting pressure on Indus aquifer. In order to tackle the water crisis, Pakistan needs to recharge its Indus aquifer and regulate the groundwater extraction, rather just focusing on building large reservoirs.

While commenting on Indus Water Treaty, Ambassador Kakakhel said that the treaty served the both India and Pakistan well as it survived three wars and recurring tension between both countries. But, unfortunately, the treaty has come under tremendous pressure mainly due to on-going violation of the treaty by Modi-led BJP regime.

“We are living in Trump era, who simply walked-out from two international agreements, i.e. Iran Nuclear Deal and UN-Paris Agreement on climate change”, said Kakakhel adding that Modi in India is also doing what he wanted to do, such as scrapping of 370 article in Kashmir and introduction of citizen amendment bill (CAB), which is alarming for regional peace.

He urged both countries to cooperate on shared water resources, implement the treaty in letter and spirit and future water negotiations should also include the emerging challenges such as climate change, water quality and sustainability of groundwater resources.

National Defence University Department of International Relations Professor Dr Shaheen Akhtar said that besides massive documentation the book provides the legal insights on Indus Water Treaty which remained limited in narratives and debates.

While commenting on Indus Water Treaty, she said that the treaty was underutilised, such as Article 7 of the treaty talks about future cooperation which never materialised.

She said that the emerging issues such as flood management, silting and reduced water flow mainly due to climatic changes are missing in the treaty, which also needs to be looked at by both countries.

China Study Centre SDPI Associate Research Fellow, Lead Energy and Head Dr Hina Aslam moderated the session.

Published in The Express Tribune,  March 3rd, 2020.


By Hafeez Tunio Published: March 4, 2020

KARACHI: The Sindh cabinet gave a nod to finalise the ‘Sindh Water Act 2020,’ under which taxes would be imposed on the use of ground and surface water for commercial purposes, during a cabinet meeting on Tuesday. The decision was made in light of a court order, which came after the dissolution of the commission on water and sanitation in Sindh.

During the cabinet meeting, chaired by Sindh Chief Minister (CM) Syed Murad Ali Shah, it was decided that a committee would be formed under the supervision of the CM to review the law.

Sindh chief secretary, local government minister, irrigation minister, agriculture minister and public health minister are to be included as members in the committee that will review the law and send it to the law department for vetting.

“The committee may form a separate body to regulate the matters of groundwater, which was being extracted by many bottled water companies,” an official privy to the development told The Express Tribune. Another official working in a local government department maintained that underground water worth billions of rupees is being extracted by various mineral and soft drink companies. He said that the initial pricing of Rs1 per litre tax on extracted groundwater was proposed at the meeting, and it was decided that the revenue collected would be distributed among water and sewerage boards across the province.

According to Water Aid Pakistan Policy and Advocay Manager Nadeem Ahmed, large amount of water is also wasted from tube wells, which run round the clock, extracting water unnecessarily. “People have now installed solar tube wells, meaning that they are able to run it the whole day,” he maintained. According to Ahmed, the government must impose a tax on tube wells and task local authorities to monitor this. “The per capita availability of water, which was over 5,200 cubic metres at the time of independence, has now depleted below 1,000 cubic metres per head, making Pakistan a water-scarce country,” he added.

Meanwhile, agriculture department officials, while briefing the cabinet, stated that three phases of tractor purchases on a government subsidy were completed but the fourth phase came to a standstill after the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) took up the issue. Under the plan, 6,200 tractors would be given out on government subsidy. For this purpose, the government has released Rs450 million to the Sindh Bank.

At the meeting, food department officials briefed the cabinet about the wheat procurement plan for crop for 2019-20. Under the plan, along with the fair distribution of bardana (gunny bags) among growers, the district-wise procurement target would be fixed on proportional basis. The cabinet also approved the purchase of 20 per cent jute bags and 80 per cent polypropylene bags. It was further decided that functional flour mills would be allowed to retain a wheat stock of 90 days as per their sanctioned grinding capacity.

The food department proposed that the support price for wheat be fixed at Rs1,400 per 40kg. At this, the chief minister said that the federal government had fixed it at Rs1,365 per 40kg support price and was going to revise it. He directed the chief secretary to coordinate with the federal government so that the Centre and the province could fix the same minimum support price, urging that the decision be taken within the next four days.

The Sindh cabinet, meanwhile, also, approved the transfer of 1,530 acres of land located in Deh Gharo, Dhabeji District Thatta to the Sindh Investment Department to establish it as the China Economic Zone Dhabeji.

Additionally, the Cabinet, after the thorough discussion, gave a term’s extension to eight vice-chancellors (VCs)of varsities across the provinces. The VCs belong to the NED University of Engineering and Technology, Mehran University, Shah Abdul Latif University, Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences Jamshoro, the Institure of Business Administration Sukkur, Jinnah Sindh Medical University, Dawwod University and BBS Benazir Bhutto Shaheed University of Technology and Skill Development Khairpur.

The cabinet also decided to establish a full-fledged university in Mirpurkhas, asking the law department to vet the draft law and present it in the assembly.


By ZAHID BAIG on March 5, 2020

A recent study covering 13 towns of four countries including Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Pakistan in the Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region shows that the Himalayan towns are facing increased water insecurity in the wake of inadequate urban planning coupled with a rapidly changing climate.

The study, the first-of-its-kind on the HKH, shows that the inter-linkages of water availability, water supply systems, rapid urbanization, and consequent increase in water demand (both daily and seasonal) are leading to increasing water insecurity in towns in the HKH region.

This water insecurity is attributed to poor water governance, lack of urban planning, poor tourism management during peak season, and climate-related risks and challenges. The study, published in the journal Water Policy, also shows that communities are coping through short-term strategies such as groundwater extraction, which is proving to be unsustainable. There is a lack of long-term strategies for water sustainability in urban centres, and this requires the special attention of planners and local governments.

Based on the findings of HI-AWARE research project undertaken by International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and partner organisations, the study suggests that urbanization has pulled people from rural areas in the HKH region into nearby urban centres. Although only 3 percent of the total HKH population lives in larger cities and 8 percent in smaller towns, projections show that more than 50 percent of the population will be living in cities by 2050. This will naturally place tremendous stress on water resources.

The study shows that the water-demand-supply gap in eight of the surveyed towns is 20-70 percent. There is a high dependence on springs (ranging between 50-100 percent) for water supply in three-fourths of the urban areas. Under current trends, the demand-supply gap may be double by 2050. A holistic water management approach that includes spring-shed management and planned adaptation is therefore paramount for securing safe water supply in the urban Himalaya. Along with spring-shed management, other options could be explored in the wake of rising water demand and use.

From the case studies of the Himalayan towns, it is evident that increasing urbanization and climate change are two critical stressors that are adversely affecting the biophysical environment of the urban Himalaya. With development plans and policies focusing more on rural areas, issues surrounding urban environments have been sidelined. Across the region, the encroachment and degradation of natural water bodies (springs, ponds, lakes, canals, and rivers) and the growing disappearance of traditional water systems (stone spouts, wells, and local water tanks) are evident. The degradation and reclamation of water bodies affect wetland ecosystems and reduce retention capacities that prevent flooding. Consequently, urban drainage and flood management systems are being impaired. The study points towards five important issues concerning water insecurity in the urban Himalaya.

First, water needs to be sustainably sourced to bridge the gap between supply and demand. Given that spring water is the only (and inadequate) source in many Himalayan towns, sustainable sourcing could be done by increasing budgetary allocations for reviving and protecting springs, increasing water harvesting, and diversifying water sources.

Second, water governance and management need to consider issues and services beyond water utilities. A polycentric governance system, which would involve multiple governing bodies and institutions interacting with one another to ensure access to water – could be a more suitable water governance model in Himalayan towns and cities.

Third, the equitable distribution of water needs more attention. The poor and marginalized are most affected when water supply dwindles.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020


A Correspondent March 07, 2020

BADIN: The officials of irrigation department and Sindh Irrigation and Drainage Authority on Friday dismantled watercourses that irrigated land of Mir Noor Ahmed Talpur, chief of Save Badin Action Committee, which was struggling against erection of blockages in Phuleli Canal, believed to be major cause of nagging water shortage in the district.

Mr Talpur told local journalists that Sida officials had targeted his watercourses to punish him for raising voice against illegal blockages in Phuleli at three points, which diverted water flows to influential persons’ lands that fell within command area of Sukkur Barrage.

He alleged that officials of Sida and irrigation department dismantled modules of watercourses at RD-82 of Sultani Wah near Rajo Khanani town on the pretext of flawed design.

He said that such tactics would not deter him from struggling for “just distribution of water” in the district and claimed that he possessed all legal documents of his watercourses and would challenge the action in court of law.

Khalil Ahmed Bhurgari, Azizullah Dero, Mir Ghulam Rasool Talpur and other leaders of the committee condemned the Sida action and warned the officials to mend their ways.

They said that if such actions did not stop and water was not supplied into canals and outlets they would issue call for shutdown in all big and small towns of the district from March 20 to register protest.

They said that on the one hand Sida officials had completely failed to supply water even for drinking in several parts of the district while on the other they were dismantling watercourses of those who had been struggling for due share of district in water.

Qabool Mohammad Khatian, chairman of the area water board, rejected claims of Mr Talpur and other leaders of the committee and said that operation against illegal watercourses was being launched under court orders. All illegal watercourses and pipes would be removed without any discrimination, he warned.

MITHI: Elected representatives, officials of government, Thar Foundation and Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC) on Friday called for implementing sustainable action programmes and schemes in Tharparkar to address human development problems and permanently end sufferings of Thar.

They were of the view that sustainable schemes for bio-saline agriculture and fodder and promotion of livestock as a formal industry would pave the way for uplifting human development indicators of Tharparkar.

They were speaking at concluding ceremony of Thar Fodder Distribution Project (TFDP) phase-I jointly completed by Thar Foundation and livestock and fisheries department.

PPP MNA Dr Mahesh Malani said that since Thar had become a resource-rich area and would contribute to national economy, policymakers should come up with sustainable programmes and schemes in agriculture and livestock sectors.

Secretary Aijaz Mahesar said that Thar had great potential to grow as a hub of livestock industry for which regular sustainable interventions were required.

“We have successfully implemented a model under TFDP and Desert Fisheries Programme in collaboration with Thar Foundation under which we’ve also released 200,000 fish seeds into the Gorano reservoir,” he added.

SECMC CEO Syed Abul Fazal Rizvi said the coal-rich people of Thar should not demand schemes in return for successful coal and energy projects; rather it was responsibility of the companies to run social uplift programmes.

He said that they were considering numerous sustainable schemes after government disbursed coal royalty to Thar Foundation later this year.

District Council Chairman Dr Ghulam Haider Samejo said that like the people getting benefits from nearby coal and energy projects, similar schemes for the rest of Thar might also be introduced and implemented by Thar Foundation.

SECMC site operations director Syed Murtaza Azher Rizvi and general manager Thar Foundation Naseer Memon told the ceremony that 21,650 households benefited from TFDP phase-I in six union councils of the district.

Published in Dawn, March 7th, 2020