Pakistan is running short of water these days. The debate got more attention when the Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar took a notice of water crisis in the country and asked authorities about constructing new dams.
During a hearing last week, the Supreme Court had observed that water resources were crucial for survival and directed the authorities to take immediate and effective measures to build two dams — Diamer Bhasha and Mohmand. Furthermore, it had appealed to the general public, including Pakistanis residing abroad,
to donate for the cause. According to the reports of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as well as the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) the country will reach absolute water scarcity by the year 2025.
The UN report also highlights that the most immediate threats would be water availability to the masses and Neil Buhne, UN Humanitarian Coordinator, Pakistan said, “No person in Pakistan, whether from the north with its more than 5,000 glaciers, or from the south with its ‘hyper deserts’, will be immune to this.
” But in Balochistan drought is still reported in major parts of Pakistani and Iranian Balochistan despite rains. Balochistan is comparatively ignored by the Federal Planners to an extent that Gwadar Port city is facing acute water shortage even for drinking and domestic use leaving aside the demand for water for the big industrial and commercial complex.
It is an undeniable fact that there are more prospects for building dams and water storage facilities in Balochistan alone comparing with the other province. After Mirani Dam, This could be a good decision to building more dams and to provide water storage facilities in any part of Balochistan.
Small check dams proved to be failure as they failed to recharge the ground water resources needing constant boring to allow significant seepage of water to subsoil. Thus we will waste all the money meant for building huge water reservoirs in all parts of Balochistan beating back drought and famine which regularly visit this part of the world with intervals.
All the projects of small dam in hands should be converted into water storage facilities for promotion of irrigation, agriculture and livestock with an idea to make Balochistan food and fruit basket of the entire region.
Balochistan have more than 20 million acres of highly fertile land for cultivation and production of multiple crops a year. More than 7.5 million acres of highly fertile land is available in a single valley based on Kachhi and Sibi Plains. Kirthar Canal and Pat Feeder are already irrigating around half a million acres of land. The proposed Kachhi Canal is supposed to irrigate more than 0.7 million acres of land in the Kachhi and Sibi Plains when it is completed.
There is a big scope for construct more and bigger dams on the surroundings of the Sibi-Kachhi Plains and the Government of Balochistan should seek financial and technical help from the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and other development t finance institutions for building major dams and water storage facilities.
CPEC will open up new avenues of economic development for Balochistan. The estimated $7.1 billion initial investments in energy, transport, development of Gwadar city and port notwithstanding, it is vital that not only more dams are constructed on a fast-track basis but Gwadar, Pasni, and Ormara must have desalination plants, possibly powered by wind turbines and solar projects.
CPEC must not be confined to power projects and road/rail infrastructure, a minimum of 10-12 more dams must be built on a crash basis. The world has stopped building big dams, one can only ignore the province’s potential at the cost of Pakistan’s future. Either we let 100 dams bloom in Balochistan or we damn its population to water scarcity and starvation.
Thus the Provincial Government and Chief Justice should take the initiative and approach the international development finance institutions, to come to the help of people of Balochistan in developing water resources and irrigating huge barren land for primary production and development of livestock.