Kabul river is in high floods but drought-like conditions have already hit most parts of the country, affecting Kharif
crops. The country’s water scarcity is socially constructed by large farmers engaged in agricultural exports. Military and the Deep State want the exports rather than better water management policies.
Pakistan could face drought in the near future according to experts in Pakistan, who have warned the country that Pakistan will approach the “absolute scarcity” level of
water by 2025.
The Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) made this grim forecast in a new report
which claimed that the country touched the “water stress line” in 1990 before crossing the “water scarcity line” in 2005. An unnamed government official from a south Asian country told media of Pakistan that urgent research is needed
to find a solution – but warned that Pakistan has a scarcity of government funds.
Pakistan has the world’s fourth highest
rate of water consumption but is dependent on water from its only source – the Indus River basin in India – and the rainfall has been steadily declining, with some experts claiming this is due to climate change.
Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi has an estimated population of a million – but very few people have running water in the city as the land has gradually dried up. This has forced many residents
to queue up for hours for supplies to be given to them. Often there have been water riots in the past.
Shamsul Mulk, former chairman of the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA), said, “A Water policy is simply non-existent in Pakistan. Policymakers act like “absentee landlords”
over water,” he added. “Because of this absentee landlordism, water has become the property of the landlords and the poor are deprived of their share.”
Experts say that urbanization and unchecked population growth due to Gen Zia’s Islamisation are
the main reasons behind the crisis. Others say the issue has been exacerbated by climate change and poor water management.
for Drought studies
Moreover, non-allotment of sufficient funds to any department other than Defence in this year’s budget will
reflect very badly on the ground.
Energy sector expert Irfan Choudhry told local media, “Authorities appear to lack the political will to tackle the problem. There are no proper water storage facilities in the country.
Pakistan hasn’t built new dams since the 1960s. What we see is political bickering over the issue. The authorities need to act now. We can store water for only 30 days, and it is worrisome.”
Some politicians have warned of “massive corruption” in the water sector with some seeking to profiteer from the scarcity and drought like situations of a vital resource.
Sufficient is not Enough
The Indus River System Authority (IRSA) on 8th June 2018 said, “The river flows had more than tripled to 342,400
cusecs since May 26 when they stood at 108,000 cusecs.” It said, “The Kabul river is now in “high flood” at Nowshera. Therefore, the water shares to states of Sindh and Punjab have been increased significantly. The storage stock has
improved to one million acre feet (MAF). Still much below the limit required to avoid drought.
On the other hand, the
Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) said, “The country has already suffered taken a severe loss and calls for “an immediate water management strategy (by all the stakeholders) to avoid negative impacts of deficit rainfall on water and agriculture
in near future”.
“Due to the severe shortfall of rain, drought-like conditions have emerged over the most parts of Pakistan”, said the PMD explaining
that moderate-to-severe drought was prevailing in Barani areas of Punjab, lower KP, South Punjab, southwest Baluchistan and southeast Sindh.
On the other hand, the
dry condition was observed in southern parts of the country during the past five months. “This dry condition caused water stress in areas dependant on agricultural economy in the country that demands availability of more supplementary irrigation water
for Kharif crops”, the PMD said.
Low in Stock to beat Drought
PMD report also added, “The water availability in major reservoirs is already low, however, the water situation in major dams would improve with an increase in temperature. On the other hand,
small dams situated near Islamabad are at critical level and groundwater boring and well become dry up to the depth of 150 feet in most areas of Islamabad and Rawalpindi. All these indicate that drought is upon Pakistan.”
The PMD said, “During this year’s winter months of January – March received
negative 62percent well below normal rainfall whereas April – May witnessed negative 9.9pc while average January to May noted 45pc of the normal rainfall over Pakistan.”
The IRSA said, “The temperature at Skardu was recorded at 30 degrees Celsius on Friday which was slightly lower than Thursday but even these temperatures were sufficient to intensify the snow melting process in catchments inside India. As
a result, river inflows have further increased from 342,400 cusecs on Friday to 356,300 cusecs The outflows were increased from 277,700 cusecs or 31,100 cusecs higher than a day before which is much below the required values.
The report indicates, “The storage in dams have increased from 0.850 MAF to 1.036 MAF. River Kabul was in high flood on Friday with its flows recorded at 91,000cs
at Nowshera. As a result, provincial shares of Punjab’s share was increased from 100,200 cusecs to 107,000 cusecs while Sindh’s share was increased to 110,000 cusecs from 90,000 cusecs.
Nothing for Kharif
Kharif cropping season starts from April-June and lasts
until October-December in different parts of Pakistan. Rice, sugarcane, cotton, maize and mash are some of the key crops of the season which consume most of the water. There will be severe shortfall of water for this season.
Blaming India for impending Drought