The water experts have underlined the need for building water reservoirs, preparation of water policy and research in order to form framework to combat water crisis and challenges in the country.
They expressed these views in a meeting on “water resources challenges of Pakistan” held at Mehran University of Engineering and Technology (MUET) Jamshoro on Friday which was organised by US-Pakistan Centre for Advanced Studies in Water (USPCAS-W).
Former secretary irrigation Sindh and water expert Muhammad Idris Rajput while delivering his presentation on “inter-provincial water issues of Pakistan” said that water disputes between Sindh and Punjab dated back to British Rule when new canals, barrages and dams were planned, constructed or envisioned.
He said various commissions and committees were formed to resolve the water dispute but failed since Anderson Committee 1935 to Haleem Commission in 1983 because of three main reasons of the dispute including shortage of water, injustice in distribution and fear of future impact.
He said upper riparian always benefited in distribution of water at the cost of their counterpart of lower riparian due to various reasons. He said that Water Accord of 1991 was signed unanimously but the dispute between the provinces was still persisting since its implementations.
He said that since the storage capacity of Tarbela and Mangla dams were reduced 29 per cent and 15 per cent respectively, the replacement dam could be viable to store surplus water. Former federal secretary planning and development Fazullah Qureshi presented statistical information on water governance and institutional performance.
He said agricultural use of water in Pakistan was very much high as compared to its productivity and there was no relationship found between cultivation of crops and collection of revenues, particularly in Sindh.
He suggested that improved governance, better agriculture extension practices, better public services, proper water charges and accountability in every sphere could pave the way for better water governance and its productive use.
Dr Muhammad Aslam Chaudhary from University of Utah, United States, said that water challenges of Pakistan could be overcome through framework of actions.
He said the USPCAS-W would initiate to collect data and serve as clearing house on water-related problems in Pakistan. Dr Chaudhry said that water problems of Pakistan should be prioritised as the applied and action research could be done accordingly.
Sindh Agriculture University Vice Chancellor, Tando Jam, Dr Mujeeb-uddin Memon moderated the meeting while Vice Chancellor Mehran University Dr Muhammad Aslam Uqaili in his conclusion remarks said that academia, civil society and water research centre have to work in coordination for the solution of water challenges faced by Pakistan today.
He said that applied research transformed into policy would improve water governance of the country. A council for research and policy was formed on this occasion which would work as a think tank of this water research center, he added.
Project Director Dr Bakhshal Khan Lashari briefed about USPCAS-W, a USAID-funded water research centre of MUET. Among others, Babar Effendi, Managing Director Sindh Irrigation and Drainage Authority (SIDA), Nazir Ahmed Essani, General Manager SIDA, Irshad Bohio, General Manager WAPDA, Zarif Khero, Superintending Engineer Chotiari Reservoir Sanghar, Prof Dr Suleman Qazi, Dr Fateh Mari, Project Coordinator Water Sector Improvement Project (WSIP) Dr GB Khaskheli, Dean MUET, Prof Mushtaq Mirani, Civil Society Activist, Mehmood Nawaz Shah, Vice President Sindh Abadgar Board, Jamaluddin Manghan, Project Director WSIP, Fazulluddin Nizamani, growers representative, faculty members of USPCAS-W and other participated in the meeting.