Saturday, December 24, 2016

Urgency in addressing deteriorating water crisis urged

December 21, 2016

The expert consultation on improving water governance in Balochistan organised by IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and Taraqee Foundation came to a close on December 20, after extensive deliberations that centred on the need for urgency in addressing the already deteriorating water crisis in the province.

Representative from the Government of Balochistan, the Ministry of Climate Change, as well as experts from the water sector and the US-Pakistan Centre for Advanced Studies in Water, at Mehran University of Engineering and Technology, donors, academia and the media participated in the event.

Key areas covered during the sessions included impacts of groundwater mining in Balochistan and institutional measures needed to control such mining; water conservation opportunities and potential and also the impacts of climate change on groundwater depletion. Sher Yar Taj, from the Planning and Development Department, Government of Balochistan, gave a presentation on the water profile of Balochistan, and said that more than 70 percent of water in Quetta was contaminated, it was 100 percent for Ziarat and Lora Lai, and while people were drinking such water in their daily routine, it was just not fit for consumption.

He urged upon integrated water resource management, and also referred to a Balochistan Master Water Plan for 2015-2025 as well as the draft Balochistan IWRM Act, both of which needed government's approval. He referred to above documents, which mentions plans for the construction of 50 dams project (2016-24), as well as 100 dams project (2009-2019); waste water treatment plants; installation of chlorinators at main drinking water sources.

The dire need to improve water governance with a focus on water rights and equity was highlighted by Naseebullah Khan, former Additional Chief Secretary, Government of Balochistan. He added that water resources management was a critical area that required attention and efforts were needed to restore watersheds. Thematic technical sessions and panel discussions viewed floodwater as the only potential resource which could be exploited by constructing check dams to create storage reservoirs. Experts highlighted that the construction of delay action dams and check dams on small streams and gorges would help both in increasing the groundwater recharge and reduce the occurrence and the intensity of the flash floods. "It is important that such activities need to be complemented with appropriate watershed management efforts," said Khan.

Earlier in his remarks, Syed Abu Ahmad Akif, Secretary, Ministry of Climate Change, observed that climate change and associated water issues had serious implications for the country, and that decreasing surface and ground water would impact every aspect of life in the coming decades as weather patterns became more unpredictable and both floods and droughts became more common and with greater impacts. "In the absence of a clear understanding of vulnerability in the water can be disastrous for the future of not just Quetta and Balochistan but also of Pakistan in the fields of agriculture, energy, forestry, and disaster planning," he added.-PR

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