Biggest problem — water scarcity

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IN an alarming development, Tarbela Dam level has plummeted to 1402 ft close to the dead level of 1400 feet.

Also, the situation in Mangla Dam is worrying as the water level in this reservoir stands at 1111.30 feet against its crest level of 1095 feet.

The water storage capacity of the two dams has significantly reduced over the years due to sedimentation.

The current water levels in the two major dams are a stark reminder of the serious water shortage faced by the country.

There are also studies which suggest that ours will be the most water-stressed country in South Asia within two decades.

It goes to the credit of the present government for initiating work on some important projects such as Diamer Basha and Mohmand dams.

Whilst these should be completed at a fast pace, there is also need to start work on other projects that have big capacity for water storage.

This is important not only to ensure our food security but also provide clean drinking water to the people.

We are facing about $29 billion in economic losses every year on account of unutilized flow of river waters into the sea due to limited water storage capacity. The authorities concerned should pay a special attention towards this serious situation.

We should learn from the Chinese experience which has built giant dams in a record period and it continues to embark on more such projects with the aim of achieving carbon neutrality by 2060.

At the same time, efforts need to be made to address the issue of water scarcity through data gathering, improved efficiency, reduced losses and improved sowing.

More and better coordinated government initiatives and subsidies, such as the drip irrigation scheme are needed. The 2018 National Water Policy needs a revamp and aggressive implementation.

Whilst our talk shows on the media mainly focus on the political situation, the focus must shift to the chronic problems faced by the country.

Water experts should be invited in these talk shows to get their invaluable input to better handle the situation.

In addition, public-awareness campaigns need to be launched with focus on water conservation. This should also be made part of curricula at different levels.