Nisar A. Memon
04-May-2019 – Pakistan Observer
Pakistan does not have problem of water; but that of management and governance of water. Pakistan does not need any policies in addition to National Water Policy 2018, National Climate Change Policy 2012, National Sanitation Policy 2006; National Environment Policy 2005; but what we need is the execution of all these policies.
Pakistan does not need any more water laws; but implementation of the existing laws. Pakistan does not need any new water goals as we were the first country to sign the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); but we need to walk the talk. Pakistan does not need to think of water and water related days apart from the well thought out days by international agencies; but we need the conviction, commitment and time-line action plans tailored to our country.
We do not need any outside funding which compromises our sovereignty; because we have our 220 people to pay indirect taxes and who even contribute voluntarily in response to appeals. However, what we need is the water accounting, auditing and accountability.
Big question is: who is going to do what is needed to be done? The implementation of policies, international commitments and execution of programs is responsibility of the people who offered to be elected and accepted to form the governments at federal, provincial and local levels. In addition to the executive branch which includes civil and military services; the judiciary is an important player since they decide on implementation of laws, punish those who violate laws and the most important the judiciary ensures compliance of constitutional provisions, on matters as important as disqualification of parliamentarians, vis-a-vis Articles 62 and 63.
The executive machinery, including National Accountability Bureau, comes into play on misuse of authority and misuse of resources. It is high time for them to come forward and share with the nation their position on water losses and leakages. Water losses and leakages are depriving the nation of important and expensive water resource and expose the security and sovereignty of the country. Judiciary with their Suo Motu powers, cannot absolve itself of the responsibility on this national issue.
Water losses cannot be ascertained without accurate measurement, transparent accounting and objective auditing of water from the glaciers, rivers, rains through the dams, barrages, canals at each entry and exits point to the final discharge in the sea. It is reported that Indus Water losses, in a year over a period of time, have been more than the Tarbela and Mangla’s original capacity.
Leakages in the form of corrupt practices in releasing water over and above the allocated water, to privileged areas and VIP farms by all concerned institutions; ungoverned pumping of ground water; general wastage in government and private offices, government colonies and private houses; and extravagant use due to lack of appropriate pricing mechanism. The private sector, private research and their corporate social responsibilities programs can play its due role.
Agricultural is the major user of water to the tune of almost 95%; as such use of sprinkler technology and other water saving techniques as well as the right choice of seeds and zoning is essential in plugging the leakages and losses. The fair pricing however remains a major challenge in conserving the water in this sector due to powerful ruling elite.
Industries, municipalities which are discharging their chemicals and effluence in public water system as well as rivers and sea should remember SDG Goal 14 to avoid any negative impact on “Life below Water” to save marine life, fishing business and adverse impact on our commercial and defense vessels.
Special focus on Kabul River water is essential since it constitutes significant water which joins into River Indus in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. We are upper riparian when our Chitral River joins Kunar River in Afghanistan which later joins Kabul River in Afghanistan before entering Pakistan to join Indus River, therefore Afghanistan becomes upper riparian to us. This special upper/lower riparian and historic relationship between the two Muslim countries sharing a long border of 2,430 km, is expected to move to closer relations.