Kalabagh Dam vital to save Pak economy, stop water loss

Our Correspondent
Saturday, May 21, 2022

LAHORE:This is the golden opportunity to build Kalabagh Dam to save Pakistan's economy and prevent water loss as 12 parties have joined the government. Further, agriculture sector is currently facing water shortage and if the problem of water scarcity will not be taken seriously then after five years drinking water may not be available in Pakistan.

These views were expressed by the discussants in Jang Economic Session on ‘Fight on Water – Destruction to Economy and Country’. The panelists were DG Agriculture Extension Punjab Dr Anjum Ali Buttar, Vice-Chairman FPCCI Nadeem Qureshi, Akhter Farooq, Dr Saleem Akhter and Rabia Sultan while the session was moderated by Sikindar Lodhi. Dr Anjum Ali Buttar said Pakistan entered in water scarcity crisis while no one has ever felt it while the planning was towards opposite directions. We have been wasting water from the beginning. There are some areas in Pakistan, which have no idea of water scarcity, and in some areas like Balochistan and Thar the situation is very different. Water is an important need for every sector either its agriculture or industry. The water scarcity problem is at its place but question is how to solve it. He suggested launching a campaign to save and preserve the water and it should be started from schools.

Nadeem Qureshi said water is still a matter of concern today. Factually, when shortage of things starts occurring, the fighting escalates. We are fortunate that these two dams were built in the time of Ayub Khan. In 74 years, after that no one thought about it, now knowing the future situation we are not going to build a dam. He observed that India has gone ahead of Pakistan. We are throwing water in the sea instead of storing it. Today the agricultural country is crying for water for agriculture and if this situation remained the same then they cried for drinking water. He warned that today government is worried about the water situation in Thar. If this issue is not reviewed, then the situation like Thar was seen everywhere in near future. Akhter Farooq stressed the need of immediate construction of Kalabagh Dam without any political interest to meet the water crisis and agricultural needs in Pakistan. There is no clean drinking water and the floods are drying up. There will be water shortage and to meet this scarcity it is necessary to build small dams as well as subsidise solar, and tube wells. He also asked for launching awareness campaigns to prevent water wastage and its reserves.

Dr Saleem Akhter said water crisis was intensifying in Pakistan while no one even realize the importance of water whereas its importance is also mentioned in religion but we are using water as a luxury here. We need to understand that water is life and we do not have any natural resource to save from this water crisis.

Construction of Kalabagh dam is inevitable and should be built by force ignoring the opposition. He said import of agricultural commodities every year will not work for Pakistan as population is also growing rapidly while food production is not growing proportionally. Pakistan needs to focus on agriculture to overcome this problem. He said one dollar spend on water will return four dollars’ gains while saving water can also boost the economy. Rabia Sultan said the emerging clean drinking water crisis is rife with chaos and fighting not only in Pakistan but all over the world. If timely workable policy will not make to control the crisis, then the next war may be fought over water.

The irony is that politics on water is being carried out under a premeditated plan. The rulers have never given importance to water. The rulers who have escalated the conflict should refrain from regional and provincial politics on water issue. According to a recent government statement, import of four million tonnes of wheat is not an easy target.

Instead, it is imperative to focus on agriculture as agriculture is not possible without water, so the provinces should be given water in proportion to their agriculture. She mentioned that the water reservoirs storage capacity was already reduced by 23 percent.