Dr Patrick A Shea, a research professor of biology at the University of Utah, said that pro-environmental laws have a significant role in today`s world, as it allows policymakers, scientists and engineers to formulate policies while keeping in special focus of the wellbeing of masses.
He was speaking at the IUCN Pakistan Country Program Office on Friday in a special lecture on: ‘Relevance of Environmental Laws in Advancing Sustainable Development Agenda’ organised by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature).
Dr Shea said that the land and water have a very strong interrelated relationship as it was obvious that land without water is futile, and water without land does not have any value.
He also mentioned that according to ‘Riparian Way System’, implemented in the United States, it states that if a water stream flows passing through ones property or beneath, that person could claim its ownership, unless he/she doesn’t pollute it.
He strongly recommended that the Australian process of leasing water was the best alternative for the future in Pakistan.
“After four years of drought in Australia they revoked the water rights law and replaced it with a lease system under which each year, people would be entitled to use a limited supply of water that the lease described,” he informed. “They can now use the water or sell it for up to maximum three years. This way the people started valuing water like never before.” He added that Pakistan had plenty of water at the time of its formation, but in the year 2015, it was categorized as a water scarce country, under the definition of the United Nations.
He said that the amount of water coming down from glaciers is decreasing because of climate change and the volume in time is unpredictable. All at sudden whenever there is a very strong heat-wave there were chances of strong and damaging floods.
“Now the challenge for the scientists and engineers is as how to predict the floods,” he said.
Dr Shea suggested that the country does have technical means and remote sensing devices to monitor the melting rate, the flow rate, and how much water is available in these glaciers. He was of the view that by using these tools effectively accurate water predictability was possible.
He strongly recommended the usage of petroleum technology to assess the carrying capacity of the underground water aquifers, recharging rate.
He warned of an intrusion of saline water in Karachi’s underground aquifers due to close proximity to the sea, further adding that the saline water is heavier and it pushes out sweet water when the two come to the same space.
Dr Shea added that it was important for the environmentalists to know that how much water one should take without compromising the structure of the aquifer, as only then it could be better regulated or otherwise either the aquifer collapses or saline would invade the space and will not have any storing capacity.
He said that for the vitality of the land and vitality of our well being it is important that every ounce of water is monitored that flows down from Himalaya.
Speaking on the occasion, Mahmood Akhtar Cheema, a IUCN country representative said that the IUCN Pakistan has played an important role in the formation of the Pakistan Environmental Protection Act (PEPA), 1997, in consultation with the government.
He said that IUCN has helped the provincial governments in Pakistan in the formulation of Provincial Environmental Acts after the 18th Amendment.
He further informed that the IUCN Pakistan organised the first ever South Asian Conference on Environmental Justice in the year 2012 that brought together around 200 practitioners and the chief justices and their designees from the highest courts of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka; Brazil, Malaysia, and Indonesia; along with other eminent experts and dignitaries gathered in Bhurban to take up the cause of the environment and ensure expedient environmental justice.
He said that the purpose behind Dr Shea’s visit to Pakistan was to gain perspective on the context of water challenges and opportunities in the country, foster relationship building with faculty and students at the Mehran University of Engineering and Technology, and to establish network of leaders of federal agencies in U.S. and corresponding leaders in federal agencies in Pakistan.
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