Dam or be damned | Pakistan Today

Dam or be damned

–CJP says construction of water reservoirs collective responsibility of nation as int’l symposium on securing Pakistan’s water concludes

–Declaration urges federal, provincial govts to take immediate steps to construct Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand dams

–Recommends formation of task force on water along with 19 other suggestions to counter water scarcity 

ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar said on Saturday that the construction of water reservoirs and dams in the country is a collective responsibility of the nation.

Talking to the participants during the first session of the second day of the international symposium on “Creating a Water Secure Pakistan” in Islamabad, he said that all stakeholders should move forward to achieve this goal.

He said there should be a council regarding the construction of Diamar-Bhasha Dam. He said the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) is an important institution regarding water storage but this responsibility should not be laid merely on it.

The chief justice also said that the availability of water needs to be ensured as Pakistan is facing water scarcity.

‘RESPONSIBILITY OF JUDGES TO PROTECT RIGHTS’:

The chief justice also questioned if he had interfered in any administrative affair. He said that he acted in favour of the people lying down on the ground waiting for medicines at hospitals.

“What should we do if someone did not fulfill his responsibility,” Justice Nisar asked.

The protection of people’s fundamental rights is the judiciary’s responsibility, the CJP said, adding that nobody took any steps in the past to overcome the water crisis.

The top judge said that he won’t disappoint the nation.

CJP Nisar said that he cannot see children dying because of the water shortage in the country, adding that he is not ready to end their children’s lives by his own hands.

He warned that life would gradually become extinct in the country in the case of non-availability of water.

“Make Pakistan your beloved for one year,” Justice Nisar said. “Can’t we love this Pakistan?”

He said the country was the “love of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah” for which he kept his ailment secret.

“Love Pakistan and you will never act against this country,” the chief justice said. He said he held the constitution quite dear to him, adding that it has a chapter on the basic rights.

“I have always had this thought of safeguarding the basic rights of the people,” Justice Nisar said. “The state is responsible for these rights under Article 7.”

He lamented that the authorities let water flow into the sea, saying, “Human, industrial and medical waste is found in the Karachi water.”

INT’L SYMPOSIUM ON SECURING PAKISTAN’S WATER:

A two-day international symposium titled “Creating a Water Secure Pakistan” has concluded where the Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan acknowledged the importance of water as a fundamental right to life and expressed the dire need for water security in the country.

In the declaration, it was said that the potential of the Indus Basin has to be realised through priority actions. It is imperative to invest in supply augmentation (dams and reservoirs) and ensure better utilisation of groundwater, adopting appropriate water technologies (water recycling, desalinization, and water harvesting) and manage consumption and use of water, it said, adding that the international water law should be used to put forward Pakistan’s perspective before various international forums.

“The government must introduce water accounting based on modernized water data collection methods to assess, amongst other things, the water availability per capita, in order to build trust amongst the Provinces regarding water apportionment, particularly considering the requirements of the Indus Delta and lower riparian areas in Pakistan,” the symposium’s declaration suggested.

“Effective salinity and sedimentation management techniques must be adopted to protect Pakistan’s agricultural land and the storage capacity of dams and reservoirs respectively.”

The declaration called on that numerous small and large dams and reservoirs must be constructed on a priority basis and innovative solutions regarding storage facilities for low gradient plains (flat areas, coastal areas, hard rock, barani areas and desert areas) must be adopted.

“The Indus Basin irrigation network has to be extended which would bring several million acres of land under irrigation, and design water allocation right down to the district level.”

“Various traditional and non-traditional financing methods including inter alia direct investment, corporate finance, portfolio investment, bonds, upfront tariff, crowdfunding and public-private partnership arrangements, must be employed to meet the huge financial requirements for construction of water storage facilities,” it adds.

It was agreed that agricultural income tax should be levied and recovered across the board, a powerful task force on water should be set up, institutional capacity of WAPDA should be strengthened, and that measures should be introduced for flood risk reduction through floodplains and hill-torrent management, groundwater recharge, wetlands restoration and community based natural resource management.

“Various measures for conservation of water need to be taken which include saving and better management of storage of groundwater to prevent its unrestricted extraction,” the declaration stressed.

“As per the National Water Policy of Pakistan, the country’s per capita surface water availability has declined from 5,260 cubic meters per year in 1951 to approximately 1,000 cubic meters in 2016; according to the World Resources Institute, Pakistan is at number 23 out of the top 33 water-stressed countries in 2040; the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources has opined that Pakistan may run dry by 2025 if the present conditions continue,” it was acknowledged.

Federal and all provincial governments, WAPDA and other executive authorities were called on to take all necessary steps for the building of the Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand Dams.



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