The FPCCI Businessmen Panel has said that the government should give water scarcity issue top priority in the national security agenda and start construction of new dams including Kala Bagh dam and water reservoirs on Jhelum and Sutlej rivers also. Talking to delegation of business community on Tuesday, former chairman FPCCI Standing Committee on Agriculture and Secretary General (Federal) of the Businessmen Panel, Ch. Ahmad Jawad said that the threat over choking off water to Pakistan is not vacuous. It needlessly pits India against the people of Pakistan by playing on an insecurity that has a deeper psychological effect than the threat of a war.
He said the Indus Water Treaty (IWT) is an international agreement and India cannot revoke it, “but I think Indian government is determined to set aside the formal contract and want to take control on Jhelum river to make a negative impact on Pakistan’s agriculture sector, which would not be acceptable at all; As India already takes control to release water into Jhelum river, which could trigger a flood or drought towards the Pakistani side”. The SG (Federal) FPCCI BMP urged the government must approach the World Bank and the international court of arbitration against Indian desires
The apex body official also called for proper water conservation and management strategy before water scarcity becomes a national security threat. Jawad said industrialized nations in Europe have water storage capacity of 90 days, but Pakistan, which is an agricultural country, has storage capacity of around 30 days only, which must be increased to 1,000 days.
“We have the world’s best canal system, but up to 50 percent of water gets wasted, which is not acceptable.” Moreover around 145 million acres feet of water passes through the country. Of this, a major portion is wasted, he said.
He said that the per capita water availability, which was 5,600 cubic metres in 1947, has reduced to 1,000 cubic metres. The Official said that the gap between demand and supply will reach one billion cubic metres in a decade; therefore, water should be declared a matter of national security to save the country from becoming a desert.”
Ahmad Jawad also said that India can’t revoke the treaty unilaterally, as the World Bank is also a party to this treaty as a guarantor. “India is not the sole party for decision making and Pakistan also has the right to go to the International Arbitration Centre,” he added.
He also said if India revokes Indus Water Treaty, it will face international reaction and may be stoppage of water from China. The water crisis had become a critical issue in the recent years because of depletion, over exploitation and pollution of water resources, he said.
Chairman FPCCI Standing Committee on Agriculture said Pakistan is one of the developing nations that are facing severe water shortage due to the lack of storage capacity, mismanagement, infrastructural weaknesses and reservoirs and an average 70 percent of rainwater goes to the Arabian Sea every year.
Jawad also underscored the need to have a water policy with the coordination of the provincial governments, which was drafted many times in the past, but not approved as yet. He also stressed on the control of evaporation losses from reservoirs and creation of reliable data of water resources and its usage.
The discharge of industrial and domestic wastewater into open water bodies and groundwater is the main threat to the country’s water reserves, which deteriorate the quality of water day-by-day and is the major cause of diseases, he added.