* Water experts say efforts should be made on war footing to take up water issues
KARACHI: The country is going to face the worst water shortage in the next couple of years due to insufficient water management practices and storage capacity, agriculture and water experts said Saturday. A report by the Washington DC based Woodrow Wilson Center described Pakistan’s water shortage as “deeply troubling.” It quotes South Asia scholar Anatol Lieven as saying that water shortages pose the greatest future threat to the viability of Pakistan as a state and a society. Most independent analysts inclduing experts said all Pakistanis agree that Pakistan is facing a severe water shortage and that some form of water management should be implemented soon. According to WAPDA with increased population, Pakistan is fast heading towards a situation of water shortage. Per capita surface water availability was 5260 cubic meters in 1951, when population was 34 million, which has been reduced to 1038 cubic meters in 2010 when the estimated population is 172 million.
Pakistan has to decide now to appoint patriotic and real water management experts to take up its case before International Court of Arbitration (COA) against India over construction of Kishanganga Hydropower project on river Neelum in violation of the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty.
Pakistan has the right to oppose the Kishanganga project because its diversion will reduce by 16 percent the power generation capacity of the 969-MW Neelum-Jhelum power project on the same river downstream Muzaffarabad in Azad Kashmir.
Patron in chief Sindh Agriculture Forum, Shakeel Ahmad said due to the poor handling of case with India as well as at COA, Pakistan could not gain points in favour of its case, only because of a team of jurists, not sincere from the start.
He said Neelum-Jhelum power project in case of losing the case in COA, will face a loss of energy more than Rs 6 billion every year. He said, “The government should select pure people for pleading its case as the time has come and any delay would help only India,” official said.
The COA would soon take up Pakistan’s case against India over construction of Kishanganga Hydropower project on river Neelum in violation of the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty. “The Indus Water Treaty with Indians remained just on papers. India had diverted Pakistani water and construction more dams which would further worsen the water situation in Pakistan,” Ahmad maintained.
Under the treaty, three Western rivers—Chenab, Jehlum and Indus are allocated to Pakistan and India is not allowed to build storages on them.
“The conventional engineering view is that a diversion barrage or a run of the river hydro-electric generation project does not create any storage.” The Baglihar dam is a run of the river hydro-electric project and it is India’s responsibility to establish that it will neither reduce the flow of water in Pakistan nor divert the flow of water in Indian territory.
Overall, about 200 kilometres of riverbed in Azad Kashmir will be affected by the Kishanganga project. The river will turn dry over 40 km — a negation of international environmental laws. Under the law, at least 70 percent of river flows are to be protected in case any project is taken in hand. It is a fact that underground water in Punjab province was going down due to Indian conspiracy through provision of free electricity to Indian Punjab province for tube wells. The farmers were excessively taking water through tube wells, which resulted in a downward trend of water in Pakistan Punjab province. If the process on Indian side continued then the underground water situation in Pakistan Punjab would further worsen that would badly affected main crops producing province of the country.
The underground water level went down from about 70-100 feet to up to 1000 feet and termed it worsen situation. The main crops of the country required 94 million acres feet (MAF) water but usually 76 MAF water available in the country. Bhurban Ramasawamy R Iyer, an Indian water management expert and well-known scholar, has conceded many of Pakistan’s concerns on the Baglihar dam in occupied Kashmir are “legitimate and carry weight”.