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February 19, 2015

‘Water supplies insufficient to meet irrigation needs’

Business

February 19, 2015

KARACHI: Experts warned on Wednesday that fresh water supplies are unlikely to keep up with the country’s demand in the near future, as rising needs and scarcities due to climate change and poor management would increase water-stress.
“One cannot imagine of having 21st century agriculture with 19th century irrigation system,” said Dr Shahid Ahmed, a world renowned water expert at a water conference.
Ahmed said the country needs a water policy at provincial levels to address issues of growing demand for agriculture and drinking water, to stop mismanagement and malpractice, and properly maintain infrastructure.
“Floods and draughts did not take place only due to climate change, but mismanagement of irrigation system also played its part in causing such calamities,” Ahmed said.
Syed Zaheer Hyder Shah, provincial irrigation secretary water said shortages appear to be rooted in wasteful and inefficient water management practices after 70’s.
“The federal government is working upon a water policy and Sindh is one stakeholder and participates in the policy making,” Shah said.
Dr Mushtaq Gaadi of Quaid-e-Azam University said water infrastructure systems, such as canals and barrages used to irrigate farm lands, are falling apart from neglect.
“There is a great need to initiate repair work upon Sukkur barrage, as it is at the verge of collapse. The regular maintenance may help it work for many more years. Taunsa barrage is facing the similar situation. Authorities can save it by spending Rs10-12 billion,” Gaadi said. “According to World Bank estimates, Pakistan needs $400 million to $600 million per annum for operating and maintenance of water infrastructure and water courses.”
The press statement of the conference said policy brief presented in the conference recommends to the provincial governments of Sindh that the public task of policy framing should be accomplished through the integration of actors’ representation

approach and adoption of actual policy frames.

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