Senior water expert Dr Hassan Abbas has underlined the need to restore ecological integrity of the River Indus right from the glacier to the delta and proposed restoration of the water flow till the Arabian Sea.
Giving a talk on water issues at a meeting of civil society organisations at the PILER Centre here on Friday, he said the Indus Basin Treaty with India was against Pakistan’s interests. “Had we gone to the International Court of Justice against the construction of dams by India before signing the Indus Basin Treaty, Pakistan would have got stopped the construction of all Indian dams,” Dr Abbas said.
He said the construction of the dams on the rivers had proven to be destructive for ecology and environment, thus they had become obsolete all over the world and Western countries had started dismantling their dams. With the changing technologies, now dams were useless and waste of money, he added.
“We are working on technologies for effective use of irrigation water,” he said, adding that there was a need to create awareness among the masses for changing the pattern of use of water in the agriculture sector. “We are using a 6,000-year-old irrigation system, which was initiated by the Pharos of Egypt. Currently, 104 million acre feet water is being taken from the river system through canals for using in agriculture in Pakistan. We can grow the same agriculture products by using only 15 to 20 maf water.”
Inland navigation in the River Indus could save the cost of transportation and it was possible to initiate navigation through the Indus, Dr Abbas suggested. Before the construction of the Sukkur Barrage, inland navigation was going on in the Indus, and many agriculture products were being exported via Shah Bandar and Keti Bandar, he noted.
There was a lot of potential to reinitiate inland navigation with spread of industries and trading, the expert said, adding that we could save almost half of transport cost through inland navigation.
Hundreds of thousands acres of agriculture land had come under the sea in the Indus Delta area due to the stoppage of the water flow, and economically we were losing millions of rupees along with the loss of precious land, he said.
The satellite data had shown that every day Pakistan was losing agriculture land in the Indus delta through sea intrusion, he added. A social and political worker and water expert, Zulfiqar Halephoto, and PILER’s Executive Director Karamat Ali also spoke on the occasion.