Water Security in Pakistan

Water Security in Pakistan

Sofia Idris (Independent Researcher, Pakistan)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 27
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3990-2.ch003

Abstract

Pakistan largely faces water scarcity, and the arid agricultural land of Pakistan is mainly due to the violation of the Indus Water Treaty by its neighbor India. By blocking the river flow towards Pakistan from the head-works, India has been building excessive dams, barrages, and power projects which are illegal according to the above-mentioned international treaty, and Pakistan has many times appealed in the UN to take action against this unfair act. However, so far, nothing could be done in this regard. The study will be helpful to understand the various challenges facing Pakistan to cater the insufficient supply of water and will give insight on the most important dimensions and facts about the international challenges to meet the shortage. The trans-boundary water issue between China and India have also been studied to try to explore new options and find the solution of a much pressing problem. The study might thus contribute to understand the issue, study the role of international community, and give useful and practical suggestions to solve the most pressing problem.
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Introduction

The floods in Pakistan this year was nothing new and nobody would have probably been surprised. However, the destruction that it brought with it was surely disappointing; people would have surely been disappointed for flooding happens every year, but no preventive measures have been taken by any government in 67 years. Pakistan largely faces water scarcity where there is shortage of it even in the urban areas that includes large and important cities too. The poor quality of water also adds to the problem where hundreds and thousands of children die each year because of the water related diseases. Underground water reservoirs are being used up presently to cater the needs of its people, which is dangerous for the excessive extraction of water from underground water beds while not being recharged and may result in water logging and salinity in the soil resulting in barrenness and ultimately desertification of the land of a country which has agriculture based economy.

The arid agricultural land of Pakistan is mainly due to the violation of the Indus Water Treaty by its neighbor, India. By blocking the river flow towards Pakistan from the head-works, India has been building excessive dams, barrages and power projects which are illegal according to the above mentioned international treaty and Pakistan have many times appealed in the UN to take action against this unfair act. However, so far, nothing could be done in this regard.

Pakistan has objected on the construction of Baglihar HPP; which is the run-of-the-river power project on Chenab and was conceived in 1992. Under the Treaty, India cannot reduce the flow in Chenab River below 55,000 cusecs between June 21 and August 31 where Pakistan received as low as 20,000 cusecs during August/September 2008. Pakistan objected on the construction of the Baglihar dam over the River Chenab and feared about the expected blockage and a resultant shortage in its water share which seems to be coming true. Swiss engineer appointed by the World Bank, suggested a few design changes; this proposal was to help limit flow control. The two countries agreed they would honour the verdict, but India has failed to make the necessary design alterations. The conflict is still unresolved with the issue of Kishanganga HEP which is a run-of-the-river hydroelectric scheme designed to divert water from the Kishanganga river __ Neelum river in Pakistan to a power plant in the Jhelum river basin. Its construction began in 2007 and has been completed in 2016 (The News, 2017). World Bank being the broker and the signatory of the treaty has not been successful yet in terms of resolving the conflict.

But the construction of dams in India is not the only problem for Pakistan; the unexpected and sudden release of river water flow from India at the times of heavy monsoon rains adds to problem when the medium level or low-level floods become heavy and dangerous floods adversely affecting Pakistani citizens as well as its economy. Many experts have stressed on building the dams and barrages as a best solution to overcome these problems; hence, it is high time to focus on the construction of projects like the long forgotten Kalabagh dam and look for ways to settle the problem for a sustainable future.

For instance, experts participating in “International Conference on Water Resources Governance in the Indus Basin” arranged by the Department of Political Science, GC University & United Nations University, Institute for Water, Environment and Health in 2013 were of the view that Himalayas is undergoing extensive construction of dams. Moreover, it is expected that Afghanistan would construct a lot of dams on Kabul River just like India for the latter has been convincing it to do so. India has developed a lot due to construction of dams and in contrast; Pakistan has failed to do so. Thus, Pakistan need to build more and more dams especially Kalabagh Dam.

Therefore, the people are worried how to meet their everyday water needs while the annual monsoon rains spoil everything: spoil the crops and floods ruin the property and take many lives while displacing many families. The floods also adversely affect the country’s economy every year. The government has the responsibility to take all the necessary steps to protect its people from such catastrophes and prevent such happenings from taking place in the future. Many scholars and experts call for construction of dams and barrages in this regard. This would not only cater the annual water needs of Pakistan particularly during the times when there is no rain and water is scarce in the country, irrigate the crops and produce electricity while combating energy crisis.

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