Lahore: Water shortage can directly hit the economic growth of Pakistan as it is not only the cheapest source of power generation but is also the lifeline of agriculture sector. It is a matter of concern that water scarcity is increasing with every passing day but we are throwing away more than 35 million acre feet water to the sea.
Pakistan can hardly escape from becoming a big desert, unless drastic measures are taken instantly.
This was the upshot of the speeches delivered at a seminar on “Water Conservation” here at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry on Tuesday. The LCCI President Ijaz A. Mumtaz, Senior Vice President Mian Nauman Kabir, Vice President Syed Mahmood Ghaznavi, Secretary Environment Protection Department Iqbal Mohammad Chauhan, Ali Husnain, Professor Dr. Amir Haider, Mushtaq Ahmad Gill, Director Irrigation Department Ghulam Zakir Hassan Sial and Chairman Sindh Tas Council Salman Khan were the speakers.
The speakers said that sufficient availability of water is must for sustainable development but in Pakistan per capita availability of water was decreasing because we have water but not enough reservoirs for storage.
Speaking on the occasion, the LCCI President Ijaz A. Mumtaz said that with every passing year, Pakistan is getting close to the brink of mass starvation because of a drastic cut in water availability from 5,000 cubic meters per capita in 1950s to 1000 cubic meters in 2010.
He said that as per World Bank analysis, our storage capacity has gone down to 150 cubic meters per capita whereas Ethiopia stands at 50. He said that India has improved its per capita storage up to 200 which will get further better once under-construction dams start operating.
Ijaz A. Mumtaz said that these facts call for establishing water reservoirs in the whole country which will enhance the capacity of water storage. He said that the same reservoirs will come handy in case of low and medium floods.
The LCCI President said that after every two to three years we have to face emergency situation due to floods in Pakistan that adversely affect our economy and push us back many years.
The LCCI Senior Vice President Mian Nauman Kabir said that Pakistan’s economy is heavily reliant on agriculture sector. This sector engages almost 45% of our work force. He said that our leading manufacturing sector is textiles, which gets basic input from agriculture. Without water, there is no survival of agriculture.
Ijaz A. Mumtaz said that government has to take steps for the water conservation and its effective use. He said that the efficient use of water through water conservation will reduce the capital and operational costs leading to economic stability and growth.
Mian Nauman Kabir said that there is no second opinion on it that most of the challenges we are facing today are the result of poor planning done to manage the water resources. It is said that it never too late to mend. If we come up with a joint strategy on water conservation, we can evade severe or may be insurmountable challenges of future.
The LCCI Vice President Syed Mahmood Ghaznavi while thanking the experts for their participation, said that the LCCI would continue its untiring efforts to highlight the important issue of water scarcity in the larger interest of the country.