Pakistan Danger of deadly famine looms : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Danger of deadly famine looms as water reserves depleting fast LAHORE (October 22) : Pakistan is facing lethal famine as country's water reserves are depleting fast besides a dangerous decline in the underground water table, a hydrologist warned here Saturday. "The lack of water, besides making the lands barren, can also lead to a crisis of drinking water in the country," said the expert, who wanted not to be named. "If more reservoirs are not constructed till 2010, the total water reserves of 14 million acre feet of the country may decrease by two million acre feet," he warned.

The expert feared that if timely steps are not taken, the agricultural production and economy of the country might be reduced to zero and the country would have to depend on imports for all its food requirements.

He pointed out that Pakistan's water reserves stood at 18 million acre feet in 1976 but have now come down to 14 million acre feet because no new dam has been built. He added that if built, the Kalabagh Dam might have six million acre feet water storage capacity and can meet the country's requirements.

"If new dams are not constructed, the water accord of 1991 would become ineffective," the expert cautioned. "The feasibility of Kalabagh Dam is already complete so it may need another five to six years for completion and can bring the water reserves close to the country's needs."

According to the expert, if the government plans the construction of a new dam, it would need nine to 10 years for completion and during this period the country might not endure the acute water shortage. "With the construction of Kalabagh Dam, Pakistan will not only be able to meet its water needs but two million acres of land will be made cultivable and the largest beneficiary will be the Sindh province," he maintained.

The expert pointed out that water level in Tarbela and Mangla reservoirs came down by 88 feet in a short span of 18 days because the outflow was more than the inflow of water. He said the water level in Tarbela touched to 1550 feet on September 9, just once as compared to the previous year, and came down by 72 feet in just 19 days. Similarly, he added, the water level in Mangla touched to the mark of 1191 feet against the total capacity of 1202 feet and was reduced by 16 feet in just 18 days.

"If the water shortage is not overcome, it might prove extremely harmful for the next Rabi season," the expert said. "The Indus River System Authority has already closed the water supply to various areas whereas more areas will be deprived of water from October 28 so that the water can be made available for the Rabi crops."-Internews

-- Martin Thompson (, October 22, 2000

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