Last updated: February 17, 2019
Topic: BusinessConstruction
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1. Water in general and fresh water in particular is essential for sustaining quality of life on earth. This commodity has a direct bearing on almost all sectors of economy. In Pakistan, its importance is more than ordinary due to the agrarian nature of the economy. Share of agriculture in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Pakistan, though reduced since 1970, is now estimated at about 24%. Agriculture is also the major user of water, yet in many parts of Pakistan, the very survival of the people depends on the timely and adequate availability of water.

With rising demands, the aridity index of the country is adding further to the significance of water in any developmental activity in Pakistan. Though, once a water surplus country due to huge water resources of the Indus River System, Pakistan is fast becoming a water deficit country. The present annual per capita water availability in Pakistan is about 920 cubic metres, which is far below the minimum recommended level of 2000 cubic meters. 2. As an outcome of the Indus Water Treaty, Pakistan had undertaken an ambitious and elaborate water storage strategy and created large water storage reservoirs to guard against the vagaries of weather.

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However, poor water shed management and ill planning over the years has caused large amount of silt to accumulate in these reservoirs reducing their storage capacity. At the same time, with no new projects coming up coupled with increased cropping intensities actual available water has now become scarce. The country today clearly faces severe water shortage. The gap between demand and supply of water has actually increased to levels, which is creating unrest among the federating units.

On the other hand conditions of drought over the last four years have further reduced fresh water supplies. Consequently, the policy makers with the engineering community are in a state of war to find proper and implementable solutions to this looming national crisis. Aim 3. To analyze the emerging water crisis and its impact on Pakistan with a view to suggest appropriate long term and short term measures to manage this critical situation. PAKISTAN’S EXISTING WATER RESOURCE AND ITS MANAGEMENT 4. In 1960, Indus Water Treaty was signed with India.

This treaty gave exclusive right of use of water of three rivers (Ravi, Beas and Sutlej) to India whereas exclusive right of use of Indus, Chenab and Jhelum was given to Pakistan. This resulted in construction of nine link canals five new barrages and three dams (Mangla, Tarbela and Warsak). The vast irrigation system of Pakistan today, comprises of three major storage reservoirs, 19 barrages or head works, 44 main canals with a conveyance length of 57,000 kilometres, and 89,000 water courses with running length of more than 1. 65 million kilometres.

Out of the 44 canal commands, 24 canal commands are located in Punjab, 5 in NWFP and 15 in Sindh/ Baluchistan. This vast irrigation system feeds more than 40 million acres of irrigated land in Pakistan a country with the highest irrigated and rain-fed land ratio in the world , i. e. 4:1. 5. Review of Existing Water Resources a. Rainfall Distribution. Rainfall is the major source of surface water. Average annual rainfall is about 238 mm which is equivalent to about 150MAF. b. Surface Water. The annual flow volumes of entire system, i. e.

Indus at Kalabagh, Jhelum at Mangla and Chenab at Marala, range from a minimum of 97 MAF to a maximum of 186 MAF based on records covering a 44 year period from 1956-57 to 1999-2000. These flows are concentrated in the Kharif season and nearly 83% of the system flows occur during the period of April through September. The peak flows occur in the month of July ranging from 20 MAF to 40 MAF. Indus River on the average yields about 138. 7 MAF of water annually. It is worth mentioning that the Indus River alone provides 65% of total river flows, while the share of Jhelum and Chenab is 17% and 19 % respective. . Ground Water. Groundwater is a vital natural resource that plays a key role in irrigation in Pakistan. In many areas of Pakistan, it has transformed the concept of low and uncertain crop yields to a more secure and predictable form of crop production. The overall effect has been to a tune of an increase in the cropping intensity from 63% in 1947 to 120% in 2000. The ground aquifer of the plains of Pakistan providing ground water are recharged from direct natural precipitation, river flows and continued seepage from the conveyance system of canals and application losses in the irrigated lands.

The assessed potential is of 50 MAF, out of which 38 MAF is already being exploited. As a result of this dramatic increase in the intensity of ground water exploitation, the policy paradigm has changed from development to management. 6. Existing Surface Storage and Hydro Power Capacity. Perennial flow in the canal system is dependent on availability of water storage dams to store surplus water and feed the irrigation system during water scarce months. 7. Indus Basin Irrigation System. Mighty River Indus and its tributaries are the main sources of surface irrigation network in Pakistan.

Five main rivers joining Indus on its eastern side are the Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas and Sutlej. Three minor rivers the Soan, Haro and Siran also drain the sub mountainous areas of Lower Himalayas into it. Kabul with its tributaries, the Swat, Panjkora and Kunar join Indus from the western side. Downstream Indus is joined by the Kurram, Gomal, Kohat Tai, Tank, Gaj and Baran, all these streams are active only during monsoons. In Baluchistan mostly streams drain inland less Hub, Malir, Porai, Hinga, Snodi and Dasht which drain independently into the Arabian Sea.

To utilize this bountiful blessing of nature a very complex and sophisticated irrigation system has sprung up over the past many decades. DRIVING FORCE BEHIND WATER RESOURCE MANAGEMENT AND ITS IMPACTS 8. Pakistan’s economy rests on agriculture productivity. A good crop year allows self sufficiency in grain production and simultaneously revitalizes the agro based industrial base of the country. In view of its pivotal importance in the overall economy water potential development merited a continuing and well planned policy implemented gradually but surely over the years.

However, to the contrary, Pakistan has witnessed a strange complacency and lack of commitment since the construction of Tarbela. Probably the national planners were awaiting a catastrophic situation before acting or probably they considered Pakistan’s present water resource productivity as sufficient requiring no further development. Whatever the case may be, Pakistan has certainly lost both in time and in national productivity and today is faced with a crisis situation. 9. Population and Food Security. The recorded current population of the country, according to the 1998 Census is 130. Million (Population density 164 persons / sq Km) with about 68% people living in the rural areas. Over 60% of the population depends on agriculture and allied industries for their bread and butter. 10. Issues Related to Indus Basin Water Management. The Indus Basin Irrigation System (IBIS) is the world’s largest irrigation system. Once the most efficient and the reason for Pakistan’s successful Green Revolution during the 1960s, the IBIS today stands at its maximum productivity. However, excessive sedimentation of the reservoirs and huge conveyance losses are indicative of serious problems.

The most conspicuous shortfalls both in terms of projects as well as in the management affecting the IBIS are:- a. Siltation of Storage Dams. Tarbela, Mangla and Chashma reservoirs were built to provide control and flexibility in river flows and ensuring inter seasonal transfers of water. Live storage capacity of these reservoirs is likely to be substantially reduced by the year 2010 due to. b. Conveyance Losses. The IBIS comprises of an elaborate network of main and branch canals, distributary’s, minors and watercourses. Water loss during conveyance from canal commands to farm gate is enormous.

Numerous studies both by WAPDA, International Consultants and International Universities (all of which study the IBIS as a case study) have been carried out to determine this loss. Therefore, there is room for a lot of improvement in irrigation methods and field layouts. c. Water Logging and Salinity. Since 1950, water logging due to rising water tables is a common phenomena in the IBIS. As a result corps yields have declined and where the water logging is too serious, agriculture has been abandoned. d. Operational Management and Maintenance of Canals.

Managing an irrigation system as elaborate as the IBIS warrants a well-organized and efficient operational management setup. However, inadequate attention to this aspect is evident from the funding made available to undertake the task. Problems of maintenance are generally not anticipated through managed prevention programs. Instead, management either responds to actual or near threatening crisis. 11. Prevalent Social and Agricultural Practices and their Impact. The Indus river System was designed to irrigate an area where cropping intensities stood at 67%.

All canal heads and older canals were designed as such. However, over the last three decades the farmers have been increasing cropping intensities, which now are well over 120%, an increase of 50% over the original 70% cropping intensity . This was, however, not supported with complimentary water saving high efficiency irrigation methods as the alignment and capacity of existing canals did not provide for carrying this additional water. 12. Unhealthy Hydro Power Ratio. When WAPDA was created in 1959, the power generation capacity was 119 MW only.

After first five years of its operation by 1964-65, the electricity generation capacity rose to 636 MW. By 1970, the Hydro Power Production rose to 1331 MW. In the year 1980, the system capacity touched 3,000 MW and rose to over 7,000 MW in 1990-91, this includes 4,600 MW of hydel power component. The present total installed capacity from WAPDA’s own hydel and thermal sources after completion of projects in hand stands at approximately 18000 MW. RECOMMENDATIONS / PROPOSED STRATEGIES 13. Short-Term Strategies (Time Frame – Two Crop Seasons).

These strategies are suggested for implementation to get results within a time frame of 2 crop seasons some of the suggested actions for short term may continue during the medium and long-term strategies: a. Awareness Campaigns. Impart knowledge and understanding about water conservation practices and modern high efficiency irrigation systems among users at large. For this purpose extensive social awareness campaigns are required using mass media means and village-to-village campaigns. b. Increasing On-Farm Application Efficiencies.

Precision laser land-levelling in plains and trickle, bubbler and sprinkler systems in upland areas with undulating topography increase field application efficiencies. Promote use of such high efficiency irrigation systems through demonstration plots and cost sharing basis. c. Motivation to Farmers and Industrialists. To motivate farmers for adoption off the high efficiency irrigation systems, incentives/subsidies and soft loans may be given. The local industries may be encouraged to manufacture components of systems for which tax holidays may be given. d.

Improved Irrigation Methods. In plains bed and furrow irrigation methods should be encouraged for adoption by farmers to improve irrigation efficiencies. e. Changes in Cropping Patterns and Crop Varieties. To conserve water, meet water shortage, and match water requirements with supplies, appropriate changes in cropping patterns may be considered. f. Reduction in Cultivation Areas. To reduce the chances of crop failures due to anticipated water shortage, planned reduction in cultivation areas to match water availability may be propagated. g. Regulation of Ground Water.

To reduce and control the over extraction of ground water, groundwater use must be regulated through appropriate legislation and its strict implementation. h. Construction New Water Storage Sites. To stop surface water going waste, construction of small dams large dams must be undertaken. Provincial irrigation departments can be tasked to undertake such projects. j. Rejuvenation of Depleting Aquifers. Fresh water aquifers need to be rejuvenated. Appropriate artificial recharge measures can be tried/experimented in areas where depletion of aquifers is becoming a problem like in Pishin Lora and Nari Basin in Baluchistan and Lahore in Punjab. . Identification of Focal Point Organisation. A focal point organisation must be identified to monitor the progress of the implementation of strategies and their effect on overall water availability for crop use, drinking and other purposes. l. Involvement of Water User Organisations. Involvement of Water User Organisations (WUOs) in planning, execution and management of all water resource projects be ensured. Establishment of Nahri Penchayats by Punjab Irrigation Department is a right step in this regard. m. Providing farmers with Information on Water Requirements.

Dissemination of information to farmers regarding actual crop water requirements will help in controlling wastage of water resulting through over irrigation. 14. Medium Term Strategies (Time Frame- One to Five Years) a. Lining of Conveyance System. Lining of canals, distributaries and watercourses can reduce water losses and increase water availability at the farm gate. b. Construction of Large Storage Reservoirs. WAPDA’s Vision 2025 focuses to address this problem and all efforts must be made to take this vision to its culmination. Annexure A provides details of various sites and the their developmental status. . Mapping of Fresh Ground Water Areas. It is necessary that fresh ground water areas are identified and mapped with regard to water table depth, potential and quality. This will aide in implementing the strategy regarding preferential lining of the conveyance system, installation of new tube wells and regulation of ground water. d. Institutional Improvements. Lack of coordination between departments at provincial and federal level has been a stumbling block in the past for successful and effective implementation of various strategies and projects in the water sector.

Institutional reforms for better co-ordination and management should be undertaken. e. Rejuvenation of Aquifers. Application of the identified aquifer rejuvenation methods must now be undertaken on a wider scale besides developing efficient methods for recycling of ground water. f. Developing Drought-Forecasting Mechanism. The country is deficient in drought-forecasting methods and techniques. Models be developed to predict the incidence of droughts for better preparedness and to plan ahead in the event of any drought calamity. g. Developing Saline Water Use Methodologies.

Saline ground water is extensively available in various parts of Pakistan. Requisite input for research be undertaken to make productive use of this resources. k. Consolidation of Land Holdings. Fragmented due to inheritance laws hampers adoption of new and modern technologies. Popularising the concept of consolidation of land holdings is therefore imperative. Government must legislate in this regard. l. Undertaking Watershed Management. Effective water shed management works in catchment areas are required to check heavy sedimentation of existing reservoirs. Due attention in this regard is required. m. Controlling Evaporation Losses from Reservoirs. Methods to control evaporation losses from open water bodies, which are huge due to the arid climate over most of the country, be tried and the most economical methods adopted for our reservoirs.

15. Long Term Strategies (Time Frame-over 5 years) a. Regulatory Framework on Ground Water. A regulatory framework for checking uncontrolled abstraction of ground water especially in arid areas needs to be put in place. b. Construction of Storage Reservoirs. Proposed construction of storage dams must be pursued wholeheartedly in order to meet the future requirements. c. Improved Forecasting of Droughts and Floods. Forecasting mechanisms for floods and droughts should be strengthened and improved for saving precious life and property. d. Resolving Water Distribution Issues. The mechanism of water distribution among provinces and on the field in the irrigated areas should be resolved amicably to suit the ground situations. e. Operational and Management. The irrigation and water sector be reorganised on modern lines with induction of highly qualified personnel, establishment of a modern and effective organisation, research universities and an independent policy making body which oversees all.

Conclusion 16. Pakistan is surely a water gifted country with the Indus Basin Irrigation System being the world’s largest contiguous irrigation system with huge potentials. However, presently the country faces serious constraints and management problems in the water sector. The nation must realise that its water resources are not infinite and they must be better managed for sustained economic development of the country. The foremost being construction of additional water storage coupled with the parallel development in all water related sectors so as to revamp our irrigation system.