Without devising a national water policy, it would be quite baseless to envision Pakistan among top 10 largest economies of the world by 2047, the chairperson of the Hisaar Foundation said on Tuesday.
Addressing a news conference regarding the third international water conference to be held next week, Zohair Ashir said the country would face a major water shortage in the next eight years.
Ashir pointed out that compared to India, which has a water carryover capacity of 200 days, Pakistan’s storage would last only 30 days. He said the imbalance found in water consumption, with 97 per cent used by the agricultural sector and only three per cent remaining for domestic use, was a big question mark over our farming practices.
“Not only this, it’s alarming that 16 million people don’t have access to safe water, and approximately 41,000 children lose their lives owing to similar reasons.” Ashir felt that the state needed to realise the gravity of the situation. He said it was saddening that the water crisis was not a priority.
“Countries like India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal have a national water policy, whereas Pakistan is still waiting to formulate one. However, we have come up with a policy of our own and launched it in Sindh, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, with the hope that it would be taken up by the respective authorities.”
Answering a question regarding India’s position on the water dispute, he felt that Pakistan needed to address the problem from a human rights perspective instead of a security one. Turning to the issue of water management in Karachi, he said it was true that 33 per cent of the water was wasted in the city, adding that even if 20 per cent of it could be salvaged, many people would have access to the commodity.
He also stressed that the Karachi Water & Sewerage Board (KWSB) needed to be strengthened for better water management, saying that handing over those duties to the Rangers was not a viable solution.
“The budget allocated for the KWSB for water management needs to be revised so that the organisation may improve. The last treatment plant installed in the city is an old one, and now there is an urgent need to install newer ones.” The two-day conference on November 21 and 22 would not only discuss these issues but the participating speakers who specialise in these matters would also provide solutions. The Hisaar Foundation aims to achieve solutions to water-based problems in the country and is a citizens’ movement.