Water Crisis in Pakistan

“Water is precious, use it wisely” says a notice placed in the bathroom of a five star hotel. There could not be a sounder piece of advice but it should be given not only to the guests of the five star hotels but also to the entire citizenry of Pakistan. Pakistan is rapidly moving to the situation when it will begin to be ranked among the countries that have severe shortages of fresh water. Wise use of this precious resource is one way of dealing with this crisis.

Man is a pre-eminently an animal good at gadgets. Man uses water much in the same way as other animals; he has to drink it constantly, washes in it frequently, and drowns in it occasionally – probably oftener than other terrestrial vertebrates. Without water, he dies as miserably as any other beast and with too much of it, as in floods, he is equally unable to cope. However, he excels other animals in that he has learned to utilize waterpower.
There are three basic uses of water in the modern civilization– agriculture, industry and human consumption. Using water wisely in these three uses is one way of saving the country from economic and social disaster.

Water is one of the most important natural resource and the major driving force for the economy of Pakistan. Only a few decades ago, Pakistan was considered to have abundance of good quality water. Now, however, in many other area of the world, population growth, economic development, rapid urbanization and industrialization, are applying continuous pressure on the already limited water resources of Pakistan.

Pakistan is now towards a serious shortage of water. In 1951, per capita surface water availability for irrigation was estimated at 5650 cubic metres; this declined sharply to only 1350 cubic metres per head in 2002. The minimum amount that should be available is 1000 cubic metres. 2012, Pakistan will have reached the stage of “acute water shortage”.


• Pakistan has exhausted its current water capability and needs to take immediate measure to sustain its water-driven economy.
• Pakistan only stores 30 days of river water. India stores 120 to 220 days, Colorado River in the US stores 900 days.
• Pakistan’s per capita water storage is just 150 cubic meters while that of China is 2200, Australia 5000 and the US is 5000.
Pakistan’s economy can only be propelled into future only through building new water projects and canals.


President Musharraf said, “Water and energy are matters of life and death for us. We have to build all dams. We have lagged far behind and have to work at a fast pace to catch up with the rest of the world.”

We are facing an existing water shortage by 9 million-acre feet and by 2020 this short fall will be up to 20 maf. Constructing two to three dams is inevitable for us by the year 2020. By building mega water reservoirs our canals will become perennial and no longer be seasonal. New reservoirs will generate 10000 mw of power, which would certainly bring down the rate of electricity. One dam will bring an additional 2 maf of water to Sindh, two dams will fetch 4 maf and another dam will bring water equal to storage capacity of Mangla Dam.

Apart from Diamer-Bhasha and Kalabagh, the water vision envisages construction of Akori, Munda and Kuram Tungi Dams by the year 2016.


Tariq Hameed, Chairman Wapda says,“Pakistan is fortunate that nature has bestowed it with abundant water reservoirs. It is now up to us to harness these resources for the economic development and prosperity of the people of Pakistan.”

1) Presently, out of total cultivable land of 77.1 million acres, we are only cultivating 54.5 million acres because of shortage of water.
2) With the increase in population, Pakistan will have a shortfall of 11 million tons of major food grains by 2010 and 16 million tons by 2020. This food grain deficit will increase to 28 million tons by 2025.
3) High power tariff burdening consumers can be reduced by correcting hydel-thermal generation ratio of 30-70, which used to be the opposite in 1970.
4) Only 14 % of Pakistan’s total hydropower potential of 50,000 mw being tapped at present.
5) Average hydel generation unit cost for new projects is Rs. 1.00/KWH against Rs. 7.00/KWH for new oil based thermal generation.
6) Pakistan’s electricity demand and increasing by 7 % per annum.
7) Agriculture is the backbone of Pakistan’s economy; 23.3 % of GDP.
8) 64 % Pakistanis depend on agriculture.
9) 60-70 % of exports depend on it.

10) Pakistan today is among one of the world’s fastest growing populations now estimated at over 150 million. Due to the lack of large river regulation capability through sizable storages, the country is facing serious shortages in food grains. Given the present trend, Pakistan could soon become one of the food deficit countries in the near future. Therefore, there is a dire need to build storages for augmenting agriculture production. Tarbela, Mangla and Chashma reservoirs have already lost about 5 maf due to sedimentation. It is estimated that by the year 2012, this loss would increase to the original combined capacity of Mangla and Chashma reservoirs.

11) Industrial expansion and growth essential for economic development and prosperity.
12) It will provide the better clean environment for the human beings.
13) Reduction in barren lands.
14) To control flooding and manage rivers.
15) The completion by India of Wuller, Buglihar and Krishenganga, Uri-11 Pakaldul and Burser projects on the western rivers of Indus, Jehlum and Chenab to which Pakistan has the exclusive right according to the 1960 Indus Basin Water Treaty, will also create serious water shortage.

1) Hydropower Generation

High power tariff, which is a burden on consumer, can be reduced by correcting hydel thermal generation ratio of 30-70, which used to be the opposite in 1970. Only 40% of Pakistan’s total hydro power potential of 50000MW is being tapped at present. Average hydel generation cost for new projects is Rs 1.007/Kwh as against Rs 7/Kwh for new oil base thermal generation. Pakistan’s electricity demands are increasing by 7% per annum.

Saving import of fuel for thermal power plants reduce cost of electrically i.e. Rs1/Kwh. Electrification of industries of towns and villages. Reduces cost of electricity help manufacturers.

2) Agriculture
Agriculture forms the backbone of Pakistan’s economy. 23.3% of GDP, 64% Pakistanis depend directly on agriculture. 60-70% exports depend on it. Water is a life line for agriculture. Average rainfall of Pakistan is below Avg. Thus, water storage is needed for agriculture as it is a precious resource and we should not waste a drop of it.

Out of Pakistan total geographical area only 17.1Macre is suitable for agriculture. A total of 44.4Macres of agriculture land is irrigated besides only 10Macres Barani land under cultivation. If water is available the remaining 22.6Macres of land(29% of total suitable area for agriculture) can turn productive if no additional water is tapped. It means that 1/3 of agriculture potential will remain untapped.

3) Industry
4) Drinking Water And Sanitation

Pakistan’s population is increasing by over 2% per year requiring availability of more clean drinking water. Cities, towns, Villages expanding requiring more water for sanitation purposes.
Implementation of clean drinking water schemes possible with availability of more water.

5) Environment

Better clean environment for humans. Reduction in barren land. Controlled rivers and canals.
More land area under cultivation, greenery and habitation to improve better water management and cleanliness. More forests and eco system preservation and flood control.



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