The Research and Policy Division of Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) organized Roundtable on water scarcity in Pakistan at FPCCI Head Office Karachi, Capital Office Islamabad and Regional Office Lahore through Video conferencing. The aim of this roundtable was to discuss the water scarcity in Pakistan for minimizing risk and maximizing benefits. The session was graced by Lieut. General ® Muzammil Hussain Chairman WAPDA and attended by Leaders of Business Community, Office Bearers of FPCCI, water research councils, stakeholders, representative of academia and trade bodies.
In his welcome address, Mr. Ghazanfar Bilour President FPCCI stated that Water scarcity presents a transnational and transboundary problem which seriously affects our agriculture and industrial sector productivity. He added that Pakistan has very little capacity of storage water compared to India, China and USA. Successful reforms in the water sector need to be accompanied by improvements in the agricultural production techniques, recycling plants and construction of small and large dams. FPCCI Vice Presidents Mr. Tariq Haleem, Mr. Zahid Saeed, Mr. Waheed Ahmed, Mr. Karim Aziz, Mr. Arfan Yousuf, Mrs. Saeeda Bano, Mrs. Shabnum Zafar and Mr. Shafique Anjum also highlighted water scarcity issues and emphasized on concrete steps for resolving the issues.
In his remarks, Mr. S. M. Muneer Former President FPCCI stated that water scarcity is a serious issue in Pakistan which may dry-out Pakistan by 2025 because of over depletion, overexploitation and pollution of water resources. Pakistan is blessed with one of the world’s best and largest irrigation system, but we failed to get maximum benefit from the system by utilizing efficiently. At present per capita availability of water is just 1000 cubic meters. He also highlighted challenges related to the global warming like rising of sea level, high temperature, frequency of flood, high frequency of droughts and melting of glaciers etc. but Pakistan doesn’t prepare itself for these challenges.
Mr. Iftikhar Ali Malik, Sr. Vice President SAARC-CCI stated that water is a chronic issue that affects yield per hectare, livestock, energy and minerals explorations. There is a need that all provinces and political parties should be same page for resolving of water issues. He added that industrial and household waste is another issue that affects the quality of water and subsequently increases death rate due to water borne diseases.
Lt. Gen Muzammil Hussain ®, Chairman WAPDA in his keynote address said that WAPDA being the biggest stakeholder is aware on water issues whereon economic growth, food security, development and security of Pakistan depend. He added that Pakistan receives 145 million acre feet of water every year but only 14m acre feet of water is preserved. Due to soil gathering at the base of Tarbela and Mangla Dam, the storage capacity of the dam has decreased by 35 to 40 percent. At present the capacity of water storage is only for 30 days and 94 per cent of surface and groundwater is used for agriculture in Pakistan. He stated that lack of governance is the main problem as there are many anti-dams lobbies that are under control of donors. Pakistan need concrete steps for resolving of water issues like adoption of water efficient technologies, water safety and saving system in agriculture, as Pakistan ranked 46th out of 48th countries in water efficient usage country.
During the technical session, Dr. Mirza Ikhtiar Baig Chairman FPCCI Standing Committee Banking, Finance and Credit indicated that if Pakistan doesn’t take immediate measures to build water reservoirs then Pakistan will face serious crises of water which will be more devastating than terrorism. He also highlighted violation of Indus water treaty agreement by India in term of building of dams on those rivers which are flowing towards Pakistan. Mr. Waseem Vohra Chairman Industry-Academia Committee on Water highlighted wasting of rain water and absence of recycling water.
Mr. Mazhar Talpur President Mega Tech also suggested usage of water efficient technologies. Dr. Moazzam Ali Khan highlighted the movement of saline and contaminated sea water towards the Indus River and water losses during the distribution to household in Karachi. Dr. Shafqat Kakakhel from Glacier Protection Organization suggested the implementation of minimum hygienic standards in water usage. Dr. Ayub Qutub, Director PIEDAT highlighted the social practices in water usage in Pakistan like usage of water in producing sugarcane and others etc and emphasized on the control of water usage. Mr. Waqar uddin Siddiqui Director NDMA talked about the initiative taken by NDMA for controlling of floods and disasters in Pakistan like disaster policy, 10 years flood management plan and creation of disaster funds etc. Dr. S. M. Imran Professor NED University highlighted the exploration of ground water resources by India on border which may create shortage of ground water to Pakistan. Mr. Tahir Imran Qureshi from NFCIET underlined Thar situation where people are drinking highly saline and fluoride water and facing bones and kidney related diseases. Moreover, malnutrition is another issue that increases the death rates in Pakistan.
During the open discussion session, the participants highlighted corruption related issues, tanker mafia, dumping of industrial wastage in sea,evaporation-losses from reservoirs and creation of reliable data of water resources, frequency of flood, high frequency of droughts, melting of glaciers and establishing of dam by India and Afghanistan etc and suggested installation of desalination plant in Karachi, Reverse Osmosis plant, good governance, establishment of Kalabagh and all other dams, creation of barrage, price of water usage in agriculture sector, maintenance and repairance/restoration of tarbela and mangla dams, rivers, canals and storage of rain water and improvement of water quality for food security, alleviation of poverty, stability, sovereignty etc. The house also emphasized that private sector should collaborate with government for resolving water issues and creation of dams.
The house decided to form FPCCI Committee on water scarcity under the head of Mr. S. M. Muneer who will meet and make presentation on water issue to Prime Minister. The committee will make necessary recommendations to be gathered from water experts.