Pakistan could ‘run dry’ by 2025

Karachi flooding exposed the Pakistan Govt's collective failure in managing climate risks. (Pic: news.com.pk)

COLUMN

-By RC Ganjoo

Pakistan is rich in water resources but continues to face water scarcity every year because of the poor water management, costing around 4-5 percent of GDP each year. These costs are caused by the floods and droughts that Pakistan faces due to poor water supply and sanitation.

The most alarming situation is the water crisis, rated as the biggest risk to Pakistan by the World Economic Forum and the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources. They also warned that the country could “run dry” by 2025.

Half of the annual rainfall in Pakistan occurs in July and August, averaging about 255 millimeters. This year in August, only Karachi received 484 mm (19 inches) rain. It is the highest rainfall recorded over the last 90 years. Pakistan receives 145 million-acre feet of water every year. However, only 14m acre-feet of water is preserved that can meet the shortage, provided Pakistan has proper storage of rainwater and floodwater.

In Pakistan, politics on the water is being played between the federal and provincial levels over the percentage of water sharing. Sindh is adamant to cooperate with Imran Khan on the water crisis for the people of Karachi.

While facing water scarcity due to floods and poor water management, Pakistan on the other is also facing the threat of water terrorism from India. India either can stop or block share of water when Pakistan needs it, or release extra water into Pakistani rivers to increase the flow causing floods in Pakistan, and both of these actions are dangerous for Pakistan.

Pakistan is dependent on India for water. India blocking water can deprive Pakistan of water to convert it into a desert.  PM Modi had already thrown the first water bomb on Pakistan in 2018 by blocking natural watercourse. India had completed its construction of the Kishanganga hydropower project on the Kishanganga River by diverting the watercourse through a 16 km tunnel.

The Kishanganga River, upon entering Pakistani territory is recognised as Neelam River that originates from Kashmir and flows through the Gurez Valley to join the Jhelum River near Muzaffarabad, at Domail, in PoK.

The project includes a 121 feet tall concrete-face rock-fill dam, which will divert a portion of the river to the south through a 24 km tunnel. The diversion reduced the flow of water into Pakistan by about 11 percent in the summer and about 27 percent in the winter. It also contends that the diversion would result in an ecological disaster for the area. India had signed all the important Conventions that, with complete effect, would ruin Neelam valley totally.