Chairman, Pakistan Council of Research and Water Resources (PCRWR) Dr. Muhammad Ashraf has underlined the need of bringing improvement in water storage mechanism and building of more reservoirs to overcome issue of growing water scarcity across the country.
In an exclusive interview with the News and Current Affairs Channel of Radio Pakistan this afternoon, he said a comprehensive strategy should be chalked out on urgent basis for water absorption and retaining mechanism to meet any drought-like situation in the future. He regretted that nearly sixty percent of water in Pakistan is lost due to improper storage systems and steps should be taken to preserve the precious commodity under well-thought-out planning.
Replying to a question, Dr. Muhammad Ashraf informed that the PCRWR was established in 1964 and is a research-based federal institution working under the Ministry of Science and Technology to conduct, organize, coordinate and promote study on all aspects of water, specifically irrigation, drainage, surface and groundwater management, groundwater recharge, watershed management, rainwater harvesting, and overall environment. Therefore, he added, the organization promotes partnerships with national and international research institutions to deal with the emerging issues and future challenges in water sector, especially in climate change scenario.
To a question about water resources in the country, the PCRWR chairman said that although Pakistan is among the countries which have large irrigation and water systems, the country is witnessing various threats and challenges like water scarcity. He said Pakistan is today categorized as a water-scarce country, because only 1000 cubic meters of this asset is available per day per person. He warned that Pakistan would witness absolute water scarcity by 2025, keeping in view the alarming increase in country’s population.
Replying to another question, he said Lahore High Court established water commission two years back to check and evaluate the reports received from various associated departments for the conservation of water. He said the main objective of this commission was to manage water reservoirs, conservation of water, to make revenue out of non-revenue water, and treatment of water and to stop water theft.
To a question about groundwater management, he said the PCRWR introduced concept of participatory On-Farm tile drainage in Sindh to reclaim waterlogged and saline soils. Under this programme, 1000 hectares of abandoned land was recovered for production. The replication of this concept to other parts of Sindh would help reclaim thousands of acres of unproductive land, besides sustaining the system on long-term basis. Dr. Muhammad Ashraf said groundwater is rapidly depleting in Balochistan for which the provincial government has constructed over 165 Delay Action Dams. However, the efficiency of these dams has been quite low due to various technical and management problems.
When asked about water-related technology, the Chairman PCRWR said technology, capacity building, and infrastructure are key areas for effective water utilization. He informed that Pakistan plans to introduce indigenous technology to treat waste water in several major cities to tackle the threat of waterborne diseases.
On a question about drinking water quality in Gilgit and Baltistan, Dr. Muhammad Ashraf said glaciers and snow deposits are the principal source of water in the hilly region. He informed that rural areas of the region mainly depend on irrigation channels for the supply of water for domestic use.
In the end, Dr. Muhammad Ashraf once again stressed that it was high time that we recognize the value of water governance, management and efficient development to preserve it for our future generations.
Host: Aaliya Qaiser
Co-Host: Javaid Hussain
Guest: PCRWR Chairman Dr. Muhammad Ashraf
Producer: Asad Ullah Khan
Executive Producer: Muhammad Tariq Chaudhary