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Water disaster looming if we fail to plan and act now: Ahsan Iqbal

Islamabad, March 20, 2014 (PPI-OT): “Our failure to formulate and implement an effective Energy Policy in last decade triggered an Energy crisis, which, along with causing sufferings to the people, is threatening our food security, economy, and development. Now, if we fail to formulate and implement an effective water management policy, it will lead towards a disaster. Our goal is to ensure energy, water and food security through timely action”, said the Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms while making an inaugural address on ‘Pakistan Water Summit 2014’ convened by Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms in collaboration with Minister of Water and Power, Ministry of Inter Provincial Coordination and Ministry of National Food Security and Research for formulating country’s first National Water Policy.

“In 1947, the water availability is Pakistan was 5,650 cubic meter per person which kept on decreasing firstly due to Indus Water treaty 1960, giving away 33 MAF water of three eastern rivers to India, secondly, gradual decline in trans boundary flows into Pakistan which has been alarmingly up to the tune of 10.25 MAF, and thirdly exceptional growth in population of Pakistan, all making per capita water availability in Pakistan to as low as 964 cubic meters per year which makes us water deficit country and can hamper our well being and at the same time severely impact future economic development. Trans-boundary water issues with India and Afghanistan have to be solved in win-win mode to ensure regional stability and prosperity. We will work with provinces to achieve national goals.”, said the Minister “Situation is aggravating due to our excessive reliance on underground water, as more than 60% of agriculture water is coming from underground water and it is not only resulting in secondary salinization but also contamination of aquifers with heavy traces of fluoride and arsenic. Climate change is also expected to have extreme effects on the glaciers, which contribute over 70% of our water resources, and may reduce the water availability, by 30% to 40%.Furthermore our productivity per unit water and land is one of the lowest in the world. In USA and Australia per capita storage is 6,150 cubic meter and 5,000 cubic meter respectively, whereas Pakistan’s storage capacity is only 132 cubic meter per person. Our neighbors, India and China, have reduced the substantial amount of water usage in agriculture sector and have enhanced productivity manifold. Pakistan’s productivity per unit of water is 0.13 kg/m3 only, one third of India’s and one sixth of China’s. Similarly Pakistan’s productivity per unit land is one third of Egypt’s, half of Saudi Arabia’s and Half of India’s. Increasing productivity in water use is critical for our future development. Pakistan’s Vision 2025 assigns highest priority to water resources and seeks a nexus of energy-water-food to ensure that we follow an integrated and holistic approach in development planning.”

He further said, “Our approach is not planning for sake of planning, we seek to minimize knowledge-doing gape by focusing on implementation and delivery. Water is a fundamental right of every citizen and it is responsibility of the state to ensure provision of clean drinking water to citizens”

Federal Minister stressed upon the need of inter-ministerial and inter-provincial body to oversee and coordinate water sector planning, development and management in order to augment the efficacy of devolution plan. Federal Minister appreciated the unique fourteen themes of the Water summit which comprehensively covers the water challenges Pakistan is facing and showed optimism that the well defined road map built by the experts of the forum will provide basis for formulation of first ever ‘National Water Policy’ of Pakistan.

The Summit was attended by many foreign and national dignitaries, including, Mr. Sikandar Hussain Boson, Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research, Mr. Riaz Pirzada, Federal Minister for inter-Provincial Coordination, Mr. Tariq Fatmi, PM’s Special Assistant for Foreign Affairs, and researchers and think tanks including Shamsul Mulk, Stephen Davis, Shakeel Durrani, Ashfaq Mahmood, Shahid Ahmed, Imtiaz Gillani, Arun Sherestha, delegates of World Bank, UNO, USAID, AusAID and institutions including Global Water Partnership, Lead, IFPRI and ICI MOD . Mr. Tariq Fatmi while appreciating the convened Summit termed it a timely and much needed activity, which should be meaningful and result oriented.

He said that PMLN government is desirous of peace at home and peaceful negotiations with the neighboring countries including India. He suggested the forum to find out ways to make water an instrument of enhancing cooperation instead of bone of contention between India and Pakistan.

For more information, contact:
Haji Ahmed Malik
Principal Information Officer
Press Information Department (PID)
Tel: +9251 925 2323 and +9251 925 2324
Fax: +9251 925 2325 and +9251 925 2326
Email: piopid@gmail.com

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