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Water Specialists say...

Byline: Prof Jamal Khan

University of Swat Vice Chancellor and former chairman department of water management in University of Agriculture, Peshawar says:

Around 535MAF surplus water on account of floods has gone downstream from 1988 to 2010 according to one study. 'But mind you this is only in floods, otherwise people of Sindh keep demanding adequate water flows for agriculture downstream Kotri barrage' he says.

He calls for managing this finite resource of freshwater in all respects. 'We have not seen a major programme like the National Programme for Improvement of Watercourses (NPIW) under which watercourses were lined in large numbers.

'We have to build big, small and medium size reservoirs as well and we have to focus on rainwater harvesting in rain-fed areas to lessen the enormity of climate change', he says and adds that rainwater harvesting could be seminal in changing Pakistan's arid region into green.

'Above all, we should focus on getting more crops with available water by coming up with new crop varieties', he says and adds that some experts think that if temperature rises above two degrees it would double the pace of glacial melt.

Dr Bakshal Lashari

Dr Bakshal Lashari, head of US-Pakistan Centre for Advanced Studies in Water at Mehran University of Engineering and Technology, says that the management of water is key to success.

Management coupled with quality research, the adoption of appropriate technology and investment in human resource would be advantageous for Pakistan's water issues, he adds.

He points out that the drop in per capita water availability is reaching alarming proportions which is directly linked with the increase in population.

'A complete over use of water in agriculture, domestic, industrial and environmental sectors is currently going on, and no one can ignore their needs simultaneously', he says. He opines that better management could help improve the situation if we make an optimum use of freshwater sources.

He says that the climate change factor has a direct bearing on weather patterns that trigger off-season rainfall to no use.

This problem could only be addressed by adopting modern technology.

Dr Yusuf Zafar

Dr Yusuf Zafar, chairman of Pakistan's top research body, Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC), underscores the need for focusing on storage and conservation of rain and flood water, judicious usage and better cropping patterns to meet challenges.

'We have started growing sugarcane in southern Punjab and those parts of upper Sindh which were otherwise a cotton belt. Sugarcane gets 16 cycles of irrigation water. And we have damaged groundwater aquifer due to excessive pumpage for the cultivation of apple which was not Balochistan's crop, except in the Ziarat region,' he laments.

Now, he says, the federal government has launched a Rs2.24bn project for olive and pistachio cultivation on 50,000 acres, and people are switching over to these crops from apple.

He says that 'over irrigation' in Balochistan has affected the onion's shelf life and that Prime Minister is attaching great importance to water.

'The prime minister considers water as vital and he wants to synchronise working of PARC, Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources, the Indus River System Authority and the water wing of Ministry of Water and Power', he says.

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Publication:Dawn (Karachi, Pakistan)
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Jan 1, 2018
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