The meeting of the Senate Special Committee on Water Scarcity was held on Wednesday.
Convened by Senator Moula Bux Chandio; the meeting was attended by Senator Sassui Palijo, Senator Brig. (R) John Kenneth Williams, Senator Muhammad Akram, Senator Khushbakht Shujat, Senator Sherry Rehman and senior officers of the Ministry of Water Resources and Indus Rivers Systems Authority (IRSA).
The Committee deliberated over Senator Muhammad Azam Khan Swati’s notice of motion under rule 218 regarding issue of water shortage in the country. It was recommended that additional storage for inter-seasonal and inter-year transfer of water for optimum utilization must be created. The losses in canals can be eliminated by lining in areas of high water loss and saline zones. It was asserted that advance systems of irrigation must be used. Water conservation was stressed as well.
Discussing the issue of desalination plants in the country Senator Sherry Rehman said that desalination is expensive but in the wake of extreme water shortage this option must be explored. If appropriate measure are not taken, she asserted, that Pakistan would face water famine by 2025. Israel and the UAE are prime examples of water starved areas where desalination has been a success. She condemned lack of funding in the PSDP regarding this project and said that India has begun a National Desalination Mission that is being funded adequately so that it does not depend solely on its river resources. She further asserted that Sindh and Balochistan must get its full share of water from the River Indus. However, other measures must be taken to protect these provinces from sea intrusion and desertification.
Senator Sassui Palijo gave recommendations to be included in the National Water Council Meeting to be held on 25th, October 2018. She demanded that the status of flood canals must be determined and that in wake of acute water shortage Mangla must not be filled. She added that it must be clarified whether Tarbela and Mangla have been constructed for the benefit of just one province.
The Committee directed the Ministry of Water Resources to provide copies of the National Water Policy and the National Water Charter of the country. It further directed that a comprehensive report on Dravat Dam in Sindh and Kachi Canal in Balochistan be submitted to the Committee in the next meeting. The Committee further stressed the need to review the issue of opening of the CJ Canal and solutions for provision of water to lower riparian areas of the country. The Committee decided to visit Karachi and the other coastal areas such as Gwadar in Balochistan to investigate the provision of drinking water to urban areas in Pakistan.