Need for constructing new water reservoirs to avoid looming water crisis – Mian Shaukat Masud

  • June 28, 2009
Pakistan is fast moving from being a water stressed country to a water scarce country which could put heavy brakes on economic growth and government should accelerate its efforts for setting up new water reservoirs and dams on emergent basis to cope with the looming water crisis.

This was stated by Mian Shaukat Masud, President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ICCI) in a statement. He said according to official reports the per capita availability of water in Pakistan has gradually dwindled from 5,260-cubic metres in 1951 to about 1000-cubic metres in recent years and if this trend continued, it could go as low as 550-cubic metres by 2025, which shows the gravity of the situation.

He said the water shortage issue has not been given the level of attention it needed and cautioned that if appropriate steps are not taken country could face a water & food crisis even worse than the current power crisis.

He said in addition to the urgent construction of new water reservoirs and small dams, government should launch serious water conservation initiatives to improve the efficiency of water use, particularly in agriculture sector, which claims more than 90 percent of the available fresh water resources.

Mian Shaukat said Pakistan can save enough water by adopting latest technology and making a partial shift from lower-value, water-intensive crops to high-value and more water-efficient crops. He said Pakistan is mostly using flood irrigation in agriculture while it should explore the use of drip or spray irrigation, which makes better and efficient use of water resources.

He said apart from human consumption and agriculture, water is also essential for power generation. He said Pakistan has the potential to generate as much as 50,000 MW of hydroelectric power, more than twice its total current generating capacity of about 20,000 MW from all sources, provided that it manages to store enough water.

ICCI President said the country has so far harnessed only 14 percent of its 50,000 MW hydro-power potential whereas most developed countries produce 70-80% of their power from water projects and our neighbors China and India have attained a 30 percent target. He said high power tariff, a burden on businesses & consumers, can be reduced by utilizing the available water resources more efficiently as the water is the most viable and cheapest way to produce electricity.

He said Pakistan’s electricity demand is increasing by seven percent annually. Therefore, the construction of new water reservoirs and dams assumes additional significance to overcome the rising water shortage problem.

He said the estimated usage of water by all industries (over half a million small and big industrial units in the country) is 3.5 million acre feet (MAF) and is expected to increase to 4.8 MAF by 2025. Therefore, new water reservoirs & dams are essential to save industries from the consequences of water crisis. He said only 55% of Pakistan’s total population has access to clean drinking water and the only solution to provide majority of the population with quality water and avoid any food crisis in future is to increase the country’s water storage capacity.