The seminar was presided over by UAF Acting Vice Chancellor Professor Dr Iqbal Zafar whereas International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Country Representative Dr Mahmood Akhtar Cheema, ICARDA Country Head Dr Abdul Majeed were guests of honour. South Asian Conservation Agriculture Network (SACAN) CEO Dr Mushtaq Ahmad Gill, Water Management Director Professor Dr Allah Buksh, Professor Dr Muhammad Irshad and Dr Jahanzeb Mausaud also spoke on the occasion.
Professor Dr Iqbal Zafar said that water availability in 2025 will stand at around 100MAF against the need of 135MAF. He stressed the need to increase the water storage capacity to save the life here. He said the water resources are shrinking and the population is rapidly increasing. To meet the demand of the water, a comprehensive awareness drive needs to be kicked off to sensitize the public about rational usage and avoid its wastage.
Dr Mahmood Akhtar Cheema said that India was setting up 11 big dams whereas we are still in a fix over the construction of dams as no breakthrough has been made on it. He said that because of climate changes, glaciers are melting. He added: “due to absence of water conservation methods, we are experiencing heavy floods, claiming many lives and destroying agriculture”.
He said the per capita water availability at the time of inception of the country was 5,600MAF which is standing only at 1,000MAF, placing Pakistan in the water scarce country. He suggested adopting a mechanism of water usage charges reasonability to avoid its misuse.
Dr Abdul Majeed stressed the need to promote the water conservation techniques by sensitising the people and making fruitful measures. He said the ICARDA’s strategy combines continuity with change – addressing current problems while expanding the focus to emerging challenges such as climate change and desertification.
Dr Mushtaq Ahmad Gill said that the country is wasting its two third of water owing to traditional conservation methods and agricultural practices. He was of the view that per capita water availability in United States is 6,000 cubic meter, in Australia 5,500 cubic meter and in China 2,200 cubic meter. Whereas, it is only 1,000 cubic meter in Pakistan, posing a threat to life if immediate steps were not taken.
He showed his concern that no authority is working for the ground water saving. He stressed the need to set up off-channels water reservoirs in the country to preserve floods water etc for preventing the untoward situation. The same water can be used later.
He said Punjab is housing around 1.3 million tube wells to pump out groundwater, which is causing decrease in the water level. He said 80 per cent of these tub wells are being run on diesels, raising the cost manifold. The alternative methods should be applied to face the situation, he suggested. Professor Dr Allah Buksh said that big dams like Kala Bagh dam should be set up to save the water for the coming generation. He was of the view that applying of technique of efficient use of water is the need of hour to combat the water scarcity issue.