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The News

Published Date: May 11, 2016

Asian nations urged to devise policies to protect water resources

Water experts and environmentalists, who gathered here Tuesday, have pressed upon the Asian nations including Pakistan for devising an integrated policy for mapping and scientifically monitoring fresh water reservoirs, especially Himalayan glaciers that is known as ‘water towers’ of Asia.
Being the water stress country, Pakistan should focus on water access and affordability, water quality and predictability to secure its water resources for future generations. Alarmingly, per capita water availability in Pakistan has gone down from 5,000 cubic meters in 1947 to less than 1,000 cubic meters now.
The Himalayas glaciers are fast melting, a warning bell not only for Pakistan but China, Nepal, India, Thailand too. “I would urge Pakistan to formulate cogent policies to preserve water resources instead of focusing on a specific legislation for it,” Dr Patrick Shea, Research Professor of Biology, University of Utah, USA, said while addressing at event.
“Relevance of Environmental Laws to Coping Climate Change,” organised by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI). He added, “Don’t get entangle in legal issues at this stage. The glaciers should be studied properly as all these countries depend on them for their water supply,” Shea said, adding that some potential conflicts had spurred in many regions due to lack of proper mapping of their water resources.
Pakistan should categorise all its water resources on an emergency basis, as it could plan accordingly for the future.
Shafqat Kakakhel, Member of the SDPI Board of Governors, said that in Pakistan, there were around one million tube-wells pumping billions of gallons water a day without regulatory system. “Monsoon and the glaciers are two major fresh water resources for Pakistan, but they both are susceptible to climate change,” he added. “Decaying water infrastructure and poor water management have led to the disaster and this all should be improved on priority basis. Over one million water tube-wells have been functioning across Pakistan, but there is zero regulatory system for the underground water resources,” Kakakhel said.
Syed Abu Ahmad Akif, Secretary Ministry of Climate Change, said the environment ministry had been facing difficulties in dealing with environmental challenges, as some major powers and departments had been devolved to provinces following the eighteenth constitutional amendment. “We are now trying to create a climate change council with cooperation of the provinces to address the important issues like water scarcity,” Akif said.