Pakistan braves $750 billion loss in 40 years over water wastage

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has sustained colossal loss of $750 billion to its economy in the last 40 years as the huge quantum of 1200 million acre feet of water had gone into drain in the wake of failure of the governments in increasing the storage capacity of the country.

This has been disclosed by IRSA Chairman Rao Irshad Ali Khan during the day-long brain-storming seminar on the draft of proposed National Water Policy of Pakistan.

IRSA chairman said that in the wake failure to construct more dams, country lost 30 MAF water on average to sea every year which could generate the economic impact of $18 billion and it had been unfortunately happening for the last 40 years. Isrhad Ali said that the para 6 of Water Apportionment Accord 1991 clearly stressed for development of future reservoirs wherever they are feasible and the WAA 1991 has been signed by the chief ministers of the four federating units meaning by that the consensus of building the future dam is there, so there is no need to develop more consensus on Kalabagh Dam as it is technically most viable project.

He said that with the development of the future dams on Indus cascade would be more beneficial for the smaller provinces as their water share in the Water Apportionment Accord will increase more as compared to the increase in share of Punjab.

He said that country has capacity to store the water of 14.11 MAF which is just enough for 30 days consumption whereas India has 200 days storage capacity and Egypt has 1500 days capacity to store water.

He said that incase Diamer-Bhasha Dam constructed, Pakistan storage capacity will increase up to 48 days and it will happen in 2025 if the said dam is built by that time. However, Pakistan needs to have the storage capacity for 90 days. He said in case the Kalabagh Dam is allowed to be built, Pakistan’s storage capacity would further increase up to 18 days more.

The chairman of the water regulator also disclosed that the Indus River is the only river which is severely unutilised as its water of 29.50 MAF goes down into the sea every year. He said that with a view to checking the sea intrusion, 10 MAF water needs to be released downstream Kotri and 25 MAF water is needed to be released in 5 years to this effect and the regulated release of 10 MAF downstream Kotri is possible only if the dams are constructed on Indus.

The Punjab government also came up with the demand to immediacy construct the Kalabagh Dam arguing there is no need to develop consensus on the said dam as there is already consensus on the development of future dams if they are feasible and technically viable as per para-6 of WAA 1991 signed by chef ministers of four provinces.

Mehmudul Hasan Siddiqui, representative of the Punjab government also posed that there should be no re-visit of Indus Water Treaty signed by both Pakistan and India on 1960.

Mr Siddiqui underscored that both the countries need to find the solution to water dispute from within the existing Indus Water Treaty. He also stressed for timely financial releases from PSDP to complete the water projects. However, representative of Sindh government did not respond to the demand of Punjab seeking building of Kalabagh Dam and said only once the draft of National Water Policy gets completed, Sindh will come up with its formal response in the next seminar.

Syed Jamal Saeed, DG small dams and representative of KP government said that Kalabagh Dam is disputed one and the government should concentrate on building the dams on which consensus has been developed such as Diamer-Bhasha Dam, Bunji dam and others.

Pervez Bukhari from Balochistan stressed for re-visiting the Indus Water Treaty to get more share for low riparian country. He said under existing IWT, there is no share of low riparian country from eastern rivers. He said there should be no compromise on water flows as these ensure our food security.

The AJK representative Dr Aurang Zeb demanded the representations in IRSA, IPCC and CCI which is not possible without getting the constitutional status. He said that IRSA is not providing the water share of 614 cusecs per day from Mangla Dam as was agreed at the time of inking agreement for Mangla upraising project and owing to which the irrigational requirements of Mirpur and Bhimber areas are not being fulfilled.

Mr Zeb said since 2003, our share from Mangla has been denied. He also demanded for service charges against the investment for maintaining the watershed area of Mangla Dam.

He said that in the national water policy draft there is no mention of maintaining the watershed management in AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan.

Since the watershed management in AJK is being maintained and to this effect service charges should be provided to AJK and it should be included in national water policy.

Zafar Waqar Taj, representative of Gilgit-Baltistan sought the representation of the contentious issues in national water policy saying that national grid should be extended to the resourceful areas. He said GB also needed to be included in water management regime. He also said that GB is deprived of the dividends because of the fact that it has not been declared the constitutional territory so far.

Federal government has also sought support from provinces to impose tariff on water use which provinces will have to pay on water usage to deposit money in a consolidated fund to spend it on controlling water losses in new proposed National Water Policy.

Chairman Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) Zafar Mahmood said on the occasion that recommendation had been made by Wapda to set water pricing.

“The water issues cannot be resolved unless water pricing is set,” he said adding that KP province had filed a petition before Indus River System Authority (Irsa) for monetary compensation against its allocated share which was being used by other provinces.

He said that the water price would also help resolve such issues.He said that federal government is investing on building reserves and provinces are receiving hydel profit. He said that electricity consumers were being loaded to recover the money spent on building reservoirs.

Water and Power Minister Khawaja Asif said that water loss was much bigger compared to electricity loss. He said that Pakistan required formulating two separate policies as one should resolve international disputes like with India whereas other policy should focus on addressing disputes among provinces over water allocation. He said that consultation was being made to develop consensus on water issues among provinces.

Quoting example of Denmark, he said that its economy had been double in last 35 years but its electricity consumption was as like 35 years before due to energy conservation.

“We need to change our behaviour pattern for water and energy conservation,” he said adding that 20 percent water was going down into sea due to lack of storages. He urged to launch mass campaign even in schools to promote energy conservation. He said that water was being wasted because of being tax free. “There had been war on water issues and there will be a war on water issue in future as well,” he added.

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