Saturday, March 21, 2009

World Water Day: Water Scarce Pakistan?


More than a billion people in the world do not have access to safe drinking water, a basic necessity, on World Water Day today. In Pakistan alone, 38.5 million people lack access to safe drinking water and 50.7 million people lack access to improved sanitation, according to published data. Pakistanis are facing unprecedented shortage of clean drinking water and electricity due to the lowest recorded levels of water in the country's dams, according to Pakistani Meteorological Department. The mortality rate for children under-five in Pakistan is 99 deaths per 1000 children, according to Global Health Council. About half of under-five deaths occur in six countries with large populations: India, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Pakistan and China. Water and sanitation related diseases are responsible for 60% of the total number of child mortality cases in Pakistan, with diarrheal diseases causing deaths of 200,000 under-five years’ children, every year. Unsafe drinking water is shown to lead to poverty through time spent by women and girls to fetch ‘drinkable’ water from long distances. The combination of unsafe water consumption and poor hygiene practices require treatments for water borne illnesses, decreased working days, and also contribute to lowering of educational achievement due to reduced school attendance by children.

It is sad to see the growing water crisis in Pakistan whose Indus Valley has been the center of some of the world’s greatest civilizations: Harappa and Mohenjo Daro (2600 to 1900 BC) and Gandhara, (1st-5th Centuries AD); their social, agricultural and economic systems were based on their interactions with rivers (Indus and its tributaries, including the Indus, Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas and Sutlej and Kabul rivers, etc.) which provided irrigation and created fertile land for farming. Archaeologists believe that people of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa lived in sturdy brick houses that had as many as three floors. The houses had bathrooms that were connected to sewers. Their elaborate drainage system was centuries ahead of their time. A well established history, tradition and system of water management and entitlements has existed, from the Indus Valley Civilization to the 1960 Indus Water Treaty and the 1991 Water Accord which establish clear entitlements for each province and for each canal command to surface waters.

Pakistan is facing a severe water shortage this year. According to a 2006 World Bank report, the country is fast moving from being a “water stressed country to a water scarce country”, mainly due to its high population growth, and water is becoming the key development issue. The groundwater is over-exploited and polluted in many areas; most of the water infrastructure (even some of the major barrages) is in poor repair; the entire system of water management is not financially sustainable. However, large parts of Pakistan have good soils, sunshine and excellent farmers; it can get much more value from the existing flows.

Among the 25 most populous countries in 2009, South Africa, Egypt and Pakistan are the most water-limited nations. India and China, however, are not far behind with per capita renewable water resources of only 1600 and 2100 cubic meters per person per year. Major European countries have up to twice as much renewable water resources per capita, ranging from 2300 (Germany) to 3000 (France) cubic meters per person per year. The United States of America, on the other hand, has far greater renewable water resources than China, India or major European countries: 9800 cubic meters per person per year. By far the largest renewable water resources are reported from Brazil and the Russian Federation - with 31900 and 42500 cubic meters per person per year.

According to the United Nations' World Water Development Report, the total actual renewable water resources in Pakistan decreased from 2,961 cubic meters per capita in 2000 to 1,420 cubic meters in 2005. A more recent study indicates an available supply of water of little more than 1,000 cubic meters per person, which puts Pakistan in the category of a high stress country. Using data from the Pakistan's federal government's Planning and Development Division, the overall water availability has decreased from 1,299 cubic meters per capita in 1996-97 to 1,101 cubic meters in 2004-05. In view of growing population, urbanization and increased industrialization, the situation is likely to get worse. If the current trends continue, it could go as lows as 550-cubic meters by 2025. Nevertheless, excessive mining of groundwater goes on. Despite a lowering water table, the annual growth rate of electric tubewells has been indicated to 6.7% and for diesel tubewells to about 7.4%. In addition, increasing pollution and saltwater intrusion threaten the country's water resources. About 36% of the groundwater is classified as highly saline.

In urban areas, most water is supplied from groundwater except for the cities of Karachi, Hyderabad and a part of Islamabad, where mainly surface water is used. In most rural areas, groundwater is used. In rural areas with saline groundwater, irrigation canals serve as the main source of domestic water.

Out of the 169,384 billion cubic meters of water which were withdrawn since 2000, 96% were used for agricultural purposes, leaving 2% for domestic and another 2% for industrial use. By far most water is used for irrigated agriculture. With the world's largest contiguous irrigation system, Pakistan has harnessed the Indus River to transform 35.7 million acres for cultivation in otherwise arid conditions. Yet,the sector contributes less than 20% of the Pakistan's GDP and Pakistan remains a food-deficit nation.

In sharp contrast to the peaks of the Hindu Kush and the Himalayas at the headwaters of the Indus River, the Indus valley plain flattens out dramatically as it runs to the sea.

The very low rainfall, poor drainage, ancient marine deposits, saline groundwater, and evaporation and transpiration combine to create a vast salt sink.
The steady expansion of irrigation and agriculture added greatly to this process of accumulating salt that over time waterlogging and soil salinity have emerged to threaten the sustainability of Pakistan’s agricultural system.

Pakistan is currently experiencing water stress and will soon face outright water scarcity. High population growth is causing ‘water stress.’ Pakistan is using almost all its water resources today and no more are available. If something goes drastically wrong with the salt/sediment/water balance of the Indus system, there is no other river system in the region to draw on.

A World Bank report recommends that Pakistan needs to set up new water reservoirs on an urgent basis, citing scarcity of water to get worse in the near future.

The aging and inadequate irrigation and water infrastructure deficit alone is estimated at US $70 billion. Pakistan needs to invest almost US $1 billion per year in new large dams and related infrastructure over the next five years.

According to the World Bank data, Pakistan only stores 30 days of river water, India stores 120 days, while the Colorado River System in the US has storage capacity of up to 900 days of water usage. The report says that new water reservoirs will push Pakistan’s economy forward. It says that a new dam can potentially add four to five percent to Pakistan’s GDP.

Water is also essential for power generation in Pakistan, but only about 20% is generated by hydroelectric power plants. The current power shortage of approximately 2,000 megawatts will increase to 6,000 megawatts by the year 2010 and 30,700 megawatts by the year 2020. Pakistan has the potential to generate as much as 50,000 MW of hydroelectric power, more than twice its total current generating capacity of 20,000 MW from all sources, which is far short of the nation's needs, limiting Pakistan's social and economic growth prospects.

In addition to the development of new water reservoirs, serious conservation steps need to be taken to improve the efficiency of water use in Pakistani agriculture which claims almost all of the available fresh water resources. A California study recently found that water use efficiency ranged from 60%-85% for surface irrigation to 70%-90% for sprinkler irrigation and 88%-90% for drip irrigation. Potential savings would be even higher if the technology switch were combined with more precise irrigation scheduling and a partial shift from lower-value, water-intensive crops to higher-value, more water-efficient crops. Rather than flood irrigation used in Pakistani agriculture, there is a need to explore the use of drip or spray irrigation to make better use of nation's scarce water resources before it is too late. As a first step toward improving efficiency, Pakistan government has launched a 1.3 billion U.S. dollar drip irrigation program that could help reduce water waste over the next five years. Early results are encouraging. "We installed a model drip irrigation system here that was used to irrigate cotton and the experiment was highly successful. The cotton yield with drip irrigation ranged 1,520 kg to 1,680 kg per acre compared to 960 kg from the traditional flood irrigation method," according to Wajid Ishaq, a junior scientist at the Nuclear Institute for Agriculture and Biology (NIAB).

Beyond the urgent need for improving farm water use efficiency, Pakistan must address the safety of drinking water to improve the health of its people. It must take steps to protect its water streams from industrial pollution and sewage discharge. Along with various international institutions and NGOs, the leadership should undertake projects that will help in providing hygiene and sanitation promotion and community mobilization along with extensive capacity building in order to complement Pakistan's substantial investments in hardware for safe drinking water. A big part of it is education, followed by practical assistance to communities in setting up better sewage treatment and waste disposal systems that are locally supported by cities and towns.

The Medium Term Development Framework 2005-2010 provides for about US$404 million per year government spending for water supply and sanitation projects and is accompanied by several policy documents with the objective to notably improve water and sanitation coverage and quality. Availability of clean water in reasonable abundance is essential for sustaining life and improving the future of the people of Pakistan. The challenges are great and the stakes are very high. Failure is not an option.

But the challenges of poor sanitation are too big and complex to expect Pakistani government alone to deal with them. The nation's private sector and NGOs must rise to the occasion. There are successful examples of private citizens addressing sanitation issues on a local, community level. For instance, Dr. Akhtar Hamid Khan is the force behind Orangi Pilot Project to help residents of Orangi Town, a katchi abadi (shanty town) in Karachi to help themselves. It has assisted in a number of projects to build better low-cost housing, improve sanitation and establish schools with the participation of the community. “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Acclaimed social scientist Dr. Akhtar Hameed Khan used to reference this well-known proverb (according to his son, Akbar Khan), as it quite fittingly represents his philosophy on community development.

While the problems faced by Pakistan are huge, I believe that a serious and organized initiative by a tiny percentage of Pakistan's large middle class of at least 40-50m people can begin to make a difference. Pakistanis owe it to themselves and their poor brethren to step up and take responsibility for improving the situation of the most vulnerable citizens of their country. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. But we must persevere by taking one step after another until we see results.

Here's a video clip on safe drinking water:



Sources/Related Links:

United Nations World Water Development Report

Water Resource Management in Pakistan

Water Supply and Sanitation in Pakistan

Light a Candle, Do Not Curse Darkness

China Profile

Safe Drinking water and Hygiene Promotion in Pakistan

UN Millennium Development Goals in Pakistani Village

Orangi Pilot Project

Three Cups of Tea

Volunteerism in America

Dr. Akhtar Hamid Khan's Vision

57 comments:

Munna said...

Riaz! I have noted with interest the reference to the Indus Valley civilization with regard to water management. Among the several reasons viz. wars, famines, epidemics etc. postulated for demise of this civilization, water scarcity attributed to shifting of the rivers is also cited as a probable cause. Ironic, isn't it? If this doesn't smack of Déjà vu, what does?

Munna Bhai

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report in today's Telegraph on Pakistan blaming India for water shortage

Last summer, farmers in agricultural heartland of Pakistan began to notice the levels of both the river and groundwater starting to fall.

The waterways, which bisect the Punjab, meaning "five rivers", are fed with glacial meltwaters from the Himalayas and for centuries has provided crucial irrigation for the region, the Independent reports.

Pakistan has blamed India, saying it is withholding millions of cubic feet of water upstream in Indian-administered Kashmir and storing it in the massive Baglihar dam in order to produce hydro-electricity.

Taking water out of the system is in breach of a 1960 treaty designed to administer water use in the region, Pakistan claims.

Talks to resolve the issue have been put on hold following the Mumbai terror attacks in Novmeber, when tensions between the two countriesincreased.

Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistan's president, said: "The water crisis in Pakistan is directly linked to relations with India. Resolution could prevent an environmental catastrophe in South Asia, but failure to do so could fuel the fires of discontent that lead to extremism and terrorism."

Earlier this month the UN warned the world may be close to its first water war. "Water is linked to the crises of climate change, energy and food supplies and prices, and troubled financial markets," a report on the issue found. "Unless their links with water are addressed and water crises around the world are resolved, these other crises may intensify and local water crises may worsen, converging into a global water crisis and leading to political insecurity and conflict at various levels."

Riaz Haq said...

Here's report on water related corruption in Pakistan:

"Pakistan’s irrigation network has always served the privileged elite at the expense of the poor. World Bank and government programs have consistently favored feudal landowners. When the irrigation system was established, the government failed to recognize the land rights of the original inhabitants and allotted irrigated plots to rich landowners and military personnel. While large and very large farmers control 66% of all agricultural land in Pakistan, almost half of all rural households own no land. A World Bank evaluation noted in 1996 that the bank’s projects "provided large and unnecessary transfers of public resources to some of the rural elite."9

The top–down engineering approach to Pakistan’s water sector has also caused massive collateral damage downstream. The Indus Basin Irrigation System starves areas of Sindh province – and particularly the Indus Delta – of water and sediment. And because the sediment trapped in the reservoirs does not replenish the delta, close to 5,000 square kilometers of farm land have already been lost to the sea. Meanwhile salt water is intruding 100 kilometers upstream in the Indus. The lack of water and sediment is destroying flood plain forests that are home to hundreds of thousands of people and mangrove forests that help protect the coast against storms.

While the downstream areas suffer from a water shortage, wasteful water use is wreaking environmental and economic havoc in the command area. Over–irrigation and inadequate drainage have caused the water table to rise across a large area. As a result, about 60% of all farm plots in Sindh are plagued by water logging and salinity."


Please read here for more details.

Riaz Haq said...

Brahma Chellany argues that China, with its control of the Tibetan plateau, will have the greatest leverage in all of Asia on water resources. Here's his 2007 piece from NY Times:

"The sharpening Asian competition over energy resources has obscured another danger: Water shortages in much of Asia are becoming a threat to rapid economic modernization.

Water has emerged as a key issue that could determine if Asia is headed toward cooperation or competition. No country would influence that direction more than China, which controls the Tibetan plateau, the source of most major rivers of Asia.

Tibet's vast glaciers and high altitude have endowed it with the world's greatest river systems. Its rivers are a lifeline to the world's two most-populous states - China and India - as well as to Bangladesh, Burma, Bhutan, Nepal, Cambodia, Pakistan, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. These countries make up 47 percent of the global population.

Yet Asia is a water-deficient continent. Although home to more than half of the human population, Asia has less fresh water - 3,920 cubic meters per person - than any continent other than the Antarctica.

The looming struggle over water resources in Asia has been underscored by the spread of irrigated farming, water-intensive industries and a growing middle class that wants high water-consuming comforts like washing machines and dishwashers. Household water consumption in Asia is rising rapidly, although several major economies there are acutely water-stressed.

The specter of water wars in Asia is also being highlighted by climate change and environmental degradation in the form of shrinking forests and swamps that foster a cycle of chronic flooding and droughts. The Himalayan snow melt that feeds Asia's great rivers could be accelerated by global warming.

While intrastate water-sharing disputes have become rife in several Asian countries - from India and Pakistan to Southeast Asia and China - it is the potential interstate conflict over river-water resources that should be of greater concern.

This concern arises from Chinese attempts to dam or redirect the southward flow of river waters from the Tibetan plateau, starting point of the Indus, the Mekong, the Yangtze, the Yellow, the Salween, the Brahmaputra, the Karnali and the Sutlej Rivers. Among Asia's mighty rivers, only the Ganges starts from the Indian side of the Himalayas."

Riaz Haq said...

According to WorldFocus, Pakistan is facing a fight that doesn't grab headlines these days.It's a fight over the future of the country's increasingly scarce supply of water. The World Bank is warning that the very viability of the nation is at stake. Laura Lynch reports from the Indus River delta.

http://www.theworld.org/node/25692

Riaz Haq said...

As the water crisis becomes global, there is a real prospect of water wars breaking out. There is also the fear of growth in social discontent, terrorism and instability from the potential ravages of water scarcity in the form of crop failures and increased hunger ( including potential for famines) and poverty in many parts of the world, including Pakistan.

Some predict that the first major water war will likely be fought between India and Pakistan, if the current issues between the two nations are not resolved and the water shortage in Pakistan becomes more acute. Already, several rivers in Pakistan have dried to a trickle. Once a strong-flowing river, Chenab in Punjab is now a slow-flowing trickle. Locals say the river once came up close to the top of the road bridge but now it dribbles past, meters below.

According to the United Nations' World Water Development Report, the total actual renewable water resources in Pakistan decreased from 2,961 cubic meters per capita in 2000 to 1,420 cubic meters in 2005. A more recent study indicates an available supply of water of little more than 1,000 cubic meters per person, which puts Pakistan in the category of a high stress country.

Among the 25 most populous countries in 2009, South Africa, Egypt and Pakistan are the most water-limited nations. India and China, however, are not far behind with per capita renewable water resources of only 1600 and 2100 cubic meters per person per year. Major European countries have up to twice as much renewable water resources per capita, ranging from 2300 (Germany) to 3000 (France) cubic meters per person per year. The United States of America, on the other hand, has far greater renewable water resources than China, India or major European countries: 9800 cubic meters per person per year. By far the largest renewable water resources are reported from Brazil and the Russian Federation - with 31900 and 42500 cubic meters per person per year.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BBC report today about acute water problems in Mumbai, India's largest city:

The heat is scorching as the young woman knocks on the window of my taxi, though rather than begging for cash she points at my water bottle, then to her mouth.

In a city where clean water has become a commodity that is delivered to the highest bidder, the poor often have to go without.

Yet those who have money can easily get enough. In Mumbai's wealthy suburbs, large tankers delivering water are commonplace.

Every day more than 5,000 tankers deliver some 50 million litres of water to people who can pay, according to unofficial estimates cited by the newspaper Mumbai Mirror.

Water shortages

But even if the wealthy were to go without such top-up deliveries, there would probably not be enough water to go around.

Mumbai's Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) delivers some 90 litres of water per day to the city's residents.

That is far short of the 135 litres of water the World Health Organization (WHO) says they require for their basic needs.

So in Mumbai, there is growing anger over the water shortages.

Last month, BMC hydraulic engineers' office was vandalised by activists. Over the weekend, a man died after violent clashes in the city between police and protestors who demanded better access to water for the disabled.

Global problem

But the lack of access to clean water is by no means merely a problem facing those who live in India's biggest cities.

In the central Indian city of Bhopal, people who live in some of the slums pump drinking water from groundwater contaminated by industrial pollution. Children who live in the slum play by the filthy and rubbish-strewn river that runs past.

Head out into rural India, and three-quarters of the population does not have access to safe drinking water.

As the population continues to grow the problem is getting worse.

India's water needs are set to double over the next two decades, according to consultants McKinsey.

Production of rice, wheat and sugar is set to push up demand from Indian agriculture, the consultancy warns.

And the problem is growing, both in India, as well as in China, South Africa and Sao Paulo state in Brazil.

By 2030, the four areas will account for more than two fifths of the world's water demand, largely thanks to a sharp rise in food production, McKinsey says.

By then, demand for water will be 40% higher than it is currently, the consultancy predicts.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a recent Daily Times report about Bhasha Dam in Pakistan:

ISLAMABAD: Deputy Chairman Planning Commission, Sardar Asef Ahmad Ali on Thursday said some changes had been made in Bhasha Dam project, particularly in its power component. In an exclusive interview with Daily Times he said the power component of Bhasha Dam would be run on Public Private Partnership basis so that burden on the government kitty might be reduced. In this regard he said that a ‘Company’ would be established, which would be converted into an international consortium. The consortium would be able to get equity as well as funds from the International Financial Institutions (IFI), Kuwait Funds and others.

Once the Company is established, he said that there would be no problems for funding, as it would be able to borrow from the market and repay the loan. “The government has assigned me to structure the Company,” the Deputy Chairman said and added that he would invite all power distribution companies including KESC to purchase its shares. The government and WAPDA might also purchase its share and later, expatriates would also be offered shares in it. In this manner, it would enjoy the status of an International Company. Its marketing plan would be carried out at world-class top companies and arrangements would be made to conduct internationals show for it. In this way, all requirements for making it an ‘Equity’ would be fulfilled, he added. All these measures have been carried out for the first time in Pakistan.

About PSDP (Public Sector Development Programme) he said that as a routine, the government releases 19 to 20 percent developmental funds in first quarter of the current fiscal year (July-September 2009). Reason for low allocation was the slow process of revenue generation through new measures adopted in the annual budget. PSDP releases for second quarter (Oct to Dec 2009) was already in progress. If the funds are released in time, he expressed hope that the government would be able to achieve its targets. At present, he said there was no indication by the ministry of finance regarding cut in PSDP 2009-10.

Currently the country’s revenue generation remained stagnant at 8.5 percent of the GDP, which he termed as lowest in the world. The government wanted to increase it to the level of 11 percent of the GDP. “Finance Minister Shaukat Tareen informed me that the government identified 2 million new taxpayers in the existing system and if it remains successful, then the PSDP will be remain as it is”, he maintained.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report talking about the threat of war over water sharing between India and Pakistan:

The sharing of river waters between India and Pakistan is a "sensitive issue" that has the potential for triggering a war between the two countries, an adviser to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has said.

Sardar Aseff Ali, who is also Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, made the remarks while speaking to the media after a seminar in Lahore yesterday.

He claimed India "will have to stop stealing Pakistan's water as the latter will not hesitate to wage war" over the issue.

Pakistan might seek international arbitration on the water issue by taking it up with the International Court of Justice or the UN Security Council if India tries to build any more dams that affect the country's share of waters, Ali said.

Pakistan can also back out of the Indus Waters Treaty and India will be responsible for the consequences, he said.

However, Ali also acknowledged that a solution to the problem cannot be found through sentimental rhetoric and the Indus Waters Treaty is the proper forum for resolving the issue.

Replying to a question on India's Baglihar dam, Ali said former President Pervez Musharraf was responsible for this project being built without any protest from Pakistan.

Riaz Haq said...

Indian star cricketer Sachin Tendulkar has joined "save water" campaign to help Mumbai deal with a severe water crisis, according to the BBC:

India's star batsman, Sachin Tendulkar, says he has renounced showers in favour of "bucket baths", as part of a campaign to save water in Mumbai.

A bucket bath is simply a bucket of water and a mug to wash oneself with. It uses much less water than a shower.

The international cricketer has made a short film urging the people of Mumbai to save water.

Mumbai has been facing severe water shortages and cuts of up to 30% have been imposed in most parts of the city.

The cricketer says his entire family has switched to bucket baths in an effort to save water. The 30-second film is expected to be aired in the coming weeks.

Water riots

Officials say that with Sachin Tendulkar starring in the film, its impact will be much greater.

A shower is said to consume more water than any other daily action.

Resorting to bucket baths and stored water is a way of life for residents in many areas, as water is supplied for only a couple of hours each day.

Monsoon rainfall has not been sufficient to resolve the shortage and the water cuts will continue until June or July 2010.

Mumbai has a daily requirement of 4,200m litres of water, and it is falling short by 800m litres.

In recent months the shortage has sparked violent demonstrations by Mumbai residents.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a perspective "Khaled Ahmed" on Pakistan "Getting ready for a ‘Water War’" published in Friday Times today:

For once Commissioner Jamaat Ali Shah is right. He sees no violation of the Treaty. And he has no jurisdiction over the new issue of scarcity of water because the Treaty doesn't deal with it

Pakistan may be getting ready to go to war with India, not over Kashmir, which it finds futile, but over the river water India is supposed to insist on stealing from it despite the Indus Water Treaty of 1960. Pakistan’s army chief has mentioned ‘water’ in his last challenging statement, followed by the Prime Minister, and there is a one-sided media war going on as the Indian side, still angry over the Mumbai attack, is poised to jump in, all guns blazing. One chief editor in Pakistan says Pakistan should nuke the Indian dams stealing Pakistani water – with him as human payload tied to a nuclear missile!

The world is waiting for this to happen. Water wars have been predicted by the UN, but statistics show that states continue to be sane over shared waters. The Economist wrote on May 1, 2008, ‘Researchers at Oregon State University say they have found that the world’s 263 trans-boundary rivers generate more co-operation than conflict. Over the past half-century, 400 treaties had been concluded over the use of rivers. Of the 37 incidents that involved violence, 30 occurred in the dry and bitterly contested region formed by Israel and its neighbours, where the upper end of the Jordan river was hotly disputed, and skirmished over, before Israel took control in the 1967 war’.

Alarmism of the Lower Riparian : The Economist ends by stating : ‘And some inter-state water treaties are very robust. The Indus river pact between India and Pakistan survived two wars and the deep crisis of 2002’. We may be about to prove the observation wrong. As we go for the next round of Indo-Pak talks – with the Indian army chief alleging cross-border infiltration in Kashmir – Pakistan’s lawyer Ahmer Bilal Soofi, writing in Dawn on February 20, 2010 focuses on the real issue : scarcity rather than theft of water, and recommends fresh talks to consider supplementing the 1960 Indus Water Treaty with a water regime during scarcity of water. The Treaty did not take into account the ecological change that would occur half a century later, depriving the subcontinent of rains and run-off from its mountain glaciers.

Today, water management is akin to conflict management. But India and Pakistan are busy conflict-creating: they started with Kashmir and have ended up with half a dozen more casus belli issues even as they talk peace. Water is the latest such issue. Before we as a lower riparian state raise the ante, let us consider some aspects of the developing confrontation. As a lower riparian, Pakistan is naturally alarmist. This is true of lower riparians anywhere in the world including lower riparian provinces in India and Pakistan. We don’t want water storage on our rivers in Kashmir; Sindh doesn’t want water storage on its rivers in Punjab. And Sindh is as alarmist and non-trusting vis-à-vis Punjab as Pakistan is vis-à-vis India.

Treaty good despite universal hatred of Treaty: In India everyone thinks signing the Indus Water Treaty was wrong. They know that not having a waters treaty is advantageous to the upper riparian if it is militarily strong. In Pakistan, even as Punjab and Sindh fight over waters, both sides denounce the 1960 Treaty. No one says how it would have benefited Pakistan if there was no treaty reserving certain rivers for Pakistan. In India those who hate the Treaty have a good reason for doing so : take all the water and make Pakistan suffer. One is astounded by the intensity of the warmongering in Pakistan over the waters, especially as one looks at the record of Pakistan’s past behaviour under the Treaty.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Dawn report on US plans to help Pakistan's power sector:

LAHORE: Help for Pakistan’s energy sector will be a top priority in plans for direct US investment in the country under the Kerry-Lugar Bill, Administrator of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), Dr Rajiv Shah, said here on Wednesday.

“The US will help refurbish three thermal and one hydel power plant that will add some 4,500MW to the national grid,” Mr Shah said while talking to this correspondent at Lahore airport before leaving for Islamabad. USAID’s Pakistan Mission Director Robert Wilson was also present.

Dr Shah said the US would invest directly in Pakistani institutions in a wide range of areas. “It is time to take immediate action to aggressively meet education and health needs also.”

He dispelled a perception that a large part of the funding would go to consultants and contractors in the United States. “It will be utilised in water, education, health and agriculture sectors that are in tremendous need of development through short-, medium- and long-term infrastructural reforms.”

He said the initiatives would help create employment, especially in tribal areas where small and medium projects relating to infrastructure development, livelihood support and technology transfer would be launched.

The quality of education would be improved through teachers’ training, curriculum development programmes and provision of textbooks in other less developed areas, especially southern Punjab, he said.

In health sector, he said, the focus would be on strengthening professional institutions and USAID would arrange for capacity building of lady health workers and paramedical staff and higher education of physicians.

Dr Shah said reinvestment in agricultural research would be another major area of attention. “We are proud to be partners in research activities at the agriculture universities of Faisalabad and Rawalpindi. Now plans are afoot to improve training facilities and marketing skills of farmers as agriculture contributes more than 25 per cent to Pakistan’s Gross Domestic Product.

“We will work on the critical issue of water with programmes aimed at helping Pakistan better manage its water resources to ensure maximum water access to the people.”

Dr Shah said: “President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton launched strategic dialogue with Pakistan to make sure that our relationship is a broad and deep partnership defined by mutual respect and cooperation in a broad range of areas, especially energy, water, education and health sectors that are very important for development of cooperation.

“This trip was really an effort to follow up that strategic dialogue. We are here to meet Pakistani leaders in government, private sector and civil society. We also have a chance to meet professors at universities and hold discussions to explore effective means and ways to work together.”

Iftikhar A. Khan adds from Islamabad: Addressing a press conference in the federal capital, Dr Shah said aid to Pakistan was not tied to the country’s performance in stemming militancy. He underlined the need for financial management control to ensure that the aid was spent to achieve the defined objectives.

He said the US had significantly enhanced investment portfolio for Pakistan without setting any specific conditions.

He said the purpose of his visit was to learn about priorities in development and put in place many principles discussed during the recent round of strategic dialogue in Washington.

Dr Shah hinted at the possibility of helping Pakistan augment its water reservoirs. “We are looking at a broad range of options and will do everything which makes economic sense.” He said the US was working with other donors and international partners to help Pakistan improve its hydro infrastructure.

Riaz Haq said...

More people in India, the world’s second most crowded country, have access to a mobile telephone than to a toilet, according to a set of recommendations released today by United Nations University (UNU) on how to cut the number of people with inadequate sanitation.

“It is a tragic irony to think that in India, a country now wealthy enough that roughly half of the people own phones, about half cannot afford the basic necessity and dignity of a toilet,” said Zafar Adeel, Director of United Nations University's Institute for Water, Environment and Health (IWEH), and chair of UN-Water, a coordinating body for water-related work at 27 UN agencies and their partners.

India has some 545 million cell phones, enough to serve about 45 per cent of the population, but only about 366 million people or 31 per cent of the population had access to improved sanitation in 2008.

The recommendations released today are meant to accelerate the pace towards reaching the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) on halving the proportion of people without access to safe water and basic sanitation.

If current global trends continue, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) predict there will be a shortfall of 1 billion persons from that sanitation goal by the target date of 2015.

“Anyone who shirks the topic as repugnant, minimizes it as undignified, or considers unworthy those in need should let others take over for the sake of 1.5 million children and countless others killed each year by contaminated water and unhealthy sanitation,” said Mr. Adeel.

Included in the nine recommendations are the suggestions to adjust the MDG target from a 50 per cent improvement by 2015 to 100 per cent coverage by 2025; and to reassign official development assistance equal to 0.002 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) to sanitation.

The UNU report cites a rough cost of $300 to build a toilet, including labour, materials and advice.

“The world can expect, however, a return of between $3 and $34 for every dollar spent on sanitation, realized through reduced poverty and health costs and higher productivity – an economic and humanitarian opportunity of historic proportions,” added Mr. Adeel.

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=34369&Cr=mdg&Cr1#

http://finalizations.com/sewage-water-pollution-and-its-environmental-effects.html

Riaz Haq said...

In 2009 HDR, the rankings of countries in terms of population WITHOUT access to improved water source, the rankings are as follows:

India 78 (11%)
Bangladesh 106 (20%)
Nepal 79 (11%)
Pakistan 74 (10%)

Water quality reported by UNESCO is not the same as access. The two are different, mainly due to the relative affordability.

The water quality is bad in some European nations such as Belgium, but access to clean water is 100%, and it is achieved through bottled water that the population there can afford.

If you look at the water quality rankings, you'll realize the difference.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a recent article in Dawn on India-Pak water issues:

Another take on the issue comes from John Briscoe, a South African expert who has spent three decades in South Asia, and has served as a senior advisor on water issues to the World Bank. In an article titled War or Peace on the Indus?, Briscoe places the matter in a political context:

“Living in Delhi and working in both India and Pakistan, I was struck by a paradox. One country was a vigorous democracy, the other a military regime. But whereas important parts of the Pakistani press regularly reported India’s views on the water issue in an objective way, the Indian press never did the same. I never saw a report which gave Indian readers a factual description of the enormous vulnerability of Pakistan, of the way India had socked it to Pakistan when filling Baglihar….

“Equally depressing is my repeated experience — most recently at a major international meeting of strategic security institutions in Delhi — that even the most liberal and enlightened of Indian analysts … seem constitutionally incapable of seeing the great vulnerability and legitimate concern of Pakistan (which is obvious and objective to an outsider)…. This is a very uneven playing field. The regional hegemon is the upper riparian and has all the cards in its hands.”

Briscoe makes the point that even though India was cleared of any technical violation of the treaty in building Baglihar dam by an international panel of experts its timing of the diversion of the river to fill the dam caused great hardship to farmers in Pakistan. He goes on to argue that as the upper riparian, India can and should do much more to reassure Pakistan that it has no intention of violating the letter or spirit of the treaty. Above all, Briscoe puts the onus on Indian opinion makers to do much more to explain the issues fairly to the Indian public.


Media coverage and analysts are very significant in India Pakistan relations. There's a lot of hope hanging on journalists and analysts exchanges as part of Aman Ki Asha.

A hopeful sign I saw recently was Indian anchor Burkha Dutt, known for her extremely hawkish views after Mumbai, visiting and joining Pak journalists and expressing herself in a much more conciliatory tone. This happened as part of Aman Ki Asha programs being aired in both South Asian countries.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's recent assessment of water shortage in India, as published at Chowk.com:

There are clear indicators that India could soon face a very grave water crisis. According to the Central Water Commission the levels of water in India’s main reservoirs had not been filled after the last year’s monsoon that was the worst in 37 years. To add to the woes there was a nearly complete
failure of the winter rains with the result that the water levels in 20 out of 21 major reservoirs are less than 40% of capacity. Some are a lot less like Bakhra that is reported to be just 12%, UP reservoirs under 20% and Gujarat 23%. The Tehri dam was emptied so that over 60 million worshippers could bathe at the four month long Maha Kumbh Mela. The recent forecast of a normal monsoon is cheering but it is just a forecast and could be completely disrupted if a big cyclonic storm were to disturb the monsoon buildup.

The water in all the rivers of India and Pakistan are very low so it is no surprise that the water in the Yamuna has fecal coli form reported to be 100 times higher than water that is fit for bathing let alone drinking. Recent reports from Mumbai show that the water levels in their reservoir are now dangerously low with no chance of replenishment till the monsoons. The same story is being repeated in almost every Indian city where the meager resources and infrastructure are being constantly stretched as hoardes of migrants flood into them every day. Every city, state and central government official will promise more irrigation projects and more pipelines but will in fact have no short term solutions. If there is no water there will be nothing to pipe in. Desalination plants will not also be a solution because they need a lot of electricity that too is insufficient.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a piece on India's energy and food crises:

The sound of trumpets–or was it sirens–was heard from Delhi this week as India’s Premier got loud about his country’s future energy needs. It’s not often we are treated to such transparency. In contrast, China tried to spin its own future call on global energy through the framework of limits this week when it declared it would hold coal consumption to 4.0-4.2 Mt (million tons) by 2015. Clearly, China’s coal consumption juggernaut wants to downplay the fact that these are coal use levels 25 percent to 30 percent higher than today.

In India, meanwhile, they are willing to put some big raw numbers on the situation:

Premier Manmohan Singh told India’s energy firms on Monday to scour the globe for fuel supplies as he warned the country’s demand for fossil fuels was set to soar 40 percent over the next decade. The country of more than 1.1 billion people already imports nearly 80 percent of its crude oil to fuel an economy that is expected to grow 8.5 percent this year and at least nine percent next year. Demand for hydrocarbons — petroleum, coal, natural gas — “over the next 10 years will increase by over 40 percent,” Singh told an energy conference in New Delhi.

Question: Is it energy that India needs? Or is it food? This is, of course, roughly the same question. As we look at the chart below, showing the decline of arable land in India from 1961 – 2007, let’s consider that India’s population rose from 444 million to 1.124 billion in the same time period.

Arable land in India has been cut in half over the past 45 years, declining from 0.35 hectares per person to the current 0.14 hectares per person. Cornucopians will protest. They’ll say global productivity of agriculture has soared over the past 50 years, and they would be correct in making such a claim. But the question is: how was that advance actually achieved?

Primarily through fossil fuels, of course. Which gets us back to Premier Singh’s clarion call. With its population having nearly tripled in 50 years, and its arable land cut in half, India is going to have to become much more productive on its remaining land. To do so, it will need to significantly increase its use of fertilizer that either comes straight from the ground, like Potash, or through manufacturing–which requires natural gas. This does not even address India’s growing water problem.

Or, that like many other Asian and Middle Eastern countries, India too has gone abroad in search of farmland. | see: FarmLandGrab.org for both a running tally and newsflow on this global mega-trend

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Dawn report on how India got carbon credits for projects violating Indus Water treaty:

ISLAMABAD: Intelligence agencies seized on Friday the record of at least two federal ministries to investigate an alleged institutional lapse in raising objections over Indian aggression on the country’s water rights and securing international carbon credits on hydropower projects disputed by Pakistan.

According to sources, the agencies came into action after receiving reports that the ministries of water and power and environment had absolved themselves of negligence in the matter. They said arrests of some officials could not be ruled out.

While inter-ministerial correspondence over the lapse continued for over nine months, the crucial objections over adverse environmental impact of the projects nearing completion on the Indian side had not yet been officially taken up with New Delhi, the sources said.

They said the ministry of water and power had said it was not responsible for the lapse because it was the job of the Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency to conduct an environmental impact assessment.

The ministry said it had no role in ratification of trans-boundary impact assessments, whose documents had not been shared with it.

On the other hand, the environment ministry washed its hand of the matter, too.

It said that since the Indian projects were of a strategic nature, it could not have intervened unless its attention had been drawn to the issue and professional advice sought.

The sources said the intelligence agencies had also taken away the record of the ‘Manual of responsibilities — Indus Water Treaty 1960’ issued by the office of the commissioner for Permanent Indus Commission in 1971.

The 72-page manual defines the responsibilities of the ministries of defence, interior and Kashmir affairs, industries and natural resources, the Met department, provincial governments, the railways and the Water and Power Development Authority. The names of several ministries have since been changed and some new institutions created.

Following a Dawn report in July last year, the prime minister’s office asked the ministries of water and power, foreign affairs and environment how India had secured carbon credits from the United Nations for the Chutak and Nimoo-Bazgo hydropower projects being built in violation of the treaty.

These ministries were taken by surprise over India’s success in getting carbon credits without clearance by Pakistan of cross-border environmental impact assessment reports of the projects despite Islamabad’s representative heading a forum of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that approved such credits.

The National Assembly’s climate change committee also got briefings from officials of the ministries of water and power and foreign affairs and urged the prime minister to ascertain “how this criminal negligence took place”.

Water and Power Secretary Javed Iqbal ordered an inquiry, led by a joint secretary, to establish how officials of the ministry and Pakistan’s permanent Indus water commissioner had delayed pursuing technical objections over not only these two projects but also over a number of others being built by India. These projects include the Kishanganga hydropower plan, which has now been taken up with the international court of arbitration.

Under the UNFCCC mechanism, carbon credit cannot be granted for a project having a cross-boundary environmental impact unless cleared by the countries concerned.

Officials said the main concern was that how India secured the credits in disregard of Pakistan’s objections over the projects at the Permanent Indus Water Commission and whether some officials had knowingly or unknowingly allowed trans-boundary EIAs.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Tom Friedman of NY Times on sustainable earth:

(Paul) Gilding cites the work of the Global Footprint Network, an alliance of scientists, which calculates how many “planet Earths” we need to sustain our current growth rates. G.F.N. measures how much land and water area we need to produce the resources we consume and absorb our waste, using prevailing technology. On the whole, says G.F.N., we are currently growing at a rate that is using up the Earth’s resources far faster than they can be sustainably replenished, so we are eating into the future. Right now, global growth is using about 1.5 Earths. “Having only one planet makes this a rather significant problem,” says Gilding.

This is not science fiction. This is what happens when our system of growth and the system of nature hit the wall at once. While in Yemen last year, I saw a tanker truck delivering water in the capital, Sana. Why? Because Sana could be the first big city in the world to run out of water, within a decade. That is what happens when one generation in one country lives at 150 percent of sustainable capacity.

“If you cut down more trees than you grow, you run out of trees,” writes Gilding. “If you put additional nitrogen into a water system, you change the type and quantity of life that water can support. If you thicken the Earth’s CO2 blanket, the Earth gets warmer. If you do all these and many more things at once, you change the way the whole system of planet Earth behaves, with social, economic, and life support impacts. This is not speculation; this is high school science.”

It is also current affairs. “In China’s thousands of years of civilization, the conflict between humankind and nature has never been as serious as it is today,” China’s environment minister, Zhou Shengxian, said recently. “The depletion, deterioration and exhaustion of resources and the worsening ecological environment have become bottlenecks and grave impediments to the nation’s economic and social development.” What China’s minister is telling us, says Gilding, is that “the Earth is full. We are now using so many resources and putting out so much waste into the Earth that we have reached some kind of limit, given current technologies. The economy is going to have to get smaller in terms of physical impact.”
---
But Gilding is actually an eco-optimist. As the impact of the imminent Great Disruption hits us, he says, “our response will be proportionally dramatic, mobilizing as we do in war. We will change at a scale and speed we can barely imagine today, completely transforming our economy, including our energy and transport industries, in just a few short decades.”

We will realize, he predicts, that the consumer-driven growth model is broken and we have to move to a more happiness-driven growth model, based on people working less and owning less. “How many people,” Gilding asks, “lie on their death bed and say, ‘I wish I had worked harder or built more shareholder value,’ and how many say, ‘I wish I had gone to more ballgames, read more books to my kids, taken more walks?’ To do that, you need a growth model based on giving people more time to enjoy life, but with less stuff.”

Sounds utopian? Gilding insists he is a realist.

“We are heading for a crisis-driven choice,” he says. “We either allow collapse to overtake us or develop a new sustainable economic model. We will choose the latter. We may be slow, but we’re not stupid.”

Riaz Haq said...

India seeking IWT-like treaty with China, according to Tehelka.com:

BATING for a “credible” water sharing treaty with China on the lines of the Indus Water Treaty (IWT) India has Pakistan, government officials here admitted there was no “verifiable system” of checking or probing China’s dam building spree particularly on the on the Yarlung Tsangpo River (aka Brahmaputra). Officially, however, India on Monday said it was verifying reports of such activity.

“We are seeking details from our Embassy in China. We are trying to get more details both from the government and depending on the reports we get, we will be able to make an assessment and take appropriate steps,” External Affairs Minister SM Krishna said.

“We have no reason to believe otherwise,” the government sources said, when asked if the satellite imagery has been indicating any activity along the river.

India’s worry mostly stem from the fact, that any Chinese activity of blocking waters would spell disaster on several hydropower coming up in Arunachal Pradesh.

Of India’s hydropower potential of 150,000 megawatts (MW), 50,000 MW is in the northeast. And AP, which is mainly fed by Brahmaputra’s tributaries –Siang, Subansiri and Lohit.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Prof Anatol Lieven, the author of Pakistan-A Hard Country, explaining water crisis in an interview with Harper's magazine:

In many other parts of the world, alternate floods and droughts are not incompatible. The answer relates to both the extremes of the local climate (which climate change is likely to make much worse), and local society’s ability to harness or limit the effects of such natural phenomena. In the case of Pakistan, however, the biggest long-term threat seems likely to be drought. The World Bank in 2004 produced a study of the prospects for Pakistan’s water resources in the coming decades that is profoundly worrying, especially given a population which (unless the birthrate can be brought down much more steeply than hitherto) may well reach 335 million by the middle of this century. In principle, Pakistan can cope with it, because if infrastructure and water use are improved, there will be enough water to go around. But this will require profound changes in Pakistan’s state and society, and to put it mildly it is not clear if the country is capable of such positive change. And by the way, the World Bank’s frightening predictions hold true even without factoring in the unknown impacts of climate change.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an alJazeera report on potential for water wars:

After droughts ravaged his parents' farmland, Sixteen-year-old Hassain and his two-year-old sister Sareye became some of the newest refugees forced from home by water scarcity.

"There was nothing to harvest," Hassain said through an interpreter during an interview at a refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya which is housing some 160,000 Somalis displaced by a lack of water. "There had been no rain in my village for two years. We used to have crops."

As global warming alters weather patterns, and the number of people lacking access to water rises, millions, if not billions, of others are expected to face a similar fate as water shortages become more frequent.

Presently, Hassain is one of about 1.2 billion people living in areas of physical water scarcity, although the majority of cases are nowhere near as dire. By 2030, 47 per cent of the world’s population will be living in areas of high water stress, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Environmental Outlook to 2030 report.

Some analysts worry that wars of the future will be fought over blue gold, as thirsty people, opportunistic politicians and powerful corporations battle for dwindling resources.

Dangerous warnings

Governments and military planners around the world are aware of the impending problem; with the US senate issuing reports with names like Avoiding Water Wars: Water Scarcity and Central Asia’s growing Importance for Stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

With rapid population growth, and increased industrial demand, water withdrawls have tripled over the last 50 years, according to UN figures."The war was also a reason why we left," Hassain said. "There was a lot of fighting near my village."

"Water scarcity is an issue exacerbated by demographic pressures, climate change and pollution," said Ignacio Saiz, director of Centre for Economic and Social Rights, a social justice group. "The world's water supplies should guarantee every member of the population to cover their personal and domestic needs."

"Fundamentally, these are issues of poverty and inequality, man-made problems," he told Al Jazeera.
--------
Some experts believe the only documented case of a "water war" happened about 4,500 years ago, when the city-states of Lagash and Umma went to war in the Tigris-Euphrates basin.

But Adel Darwish, a journalist and co-author of Water Wars: Coming Conflicts in the Middle East, says modern history has already seen at least two water wars.

"I have [former Israeli prime minister] Ariel Sharon speaking on record saying the reason for going to war [against Arab armies] in 1967 was for water," Darwish told Al Jazeera.

Some analysts believe Israel continues to occupy the Golan heights, seized from Syria in 1967, due to issues of water control, while others think the occupation is about maintaining high ground in case of future conflicts.

Senegal and Mauritania also fought a war starting in 1989 over grazing rights on the River Senegal. And Syria and Iraq have fought minor skirmishes over the Euphrates River.


http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/features/2011/06/2011622193147231653.html

http://www.waterpolitics.com/2011/02/26/avoiding-water-wars-water-scarcity-and-strategic-power-of-water-in-central-asia/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Express Tribune report on water rationing by Indus River System Authority in Pakistan:

A drop in temperature in the northern areas of the country has led to reduced water inflows in rivers and low water levels in major reservoirs, prompting the Indus River System Authority (Irsa) to possibly cut Punjab and Sindh’s water shares by up to 20%.

The body is expected to face strong resistance from the affected provinces.

A final decision in this regard is expected at Irsa’s special advisory committee meeting on July 21, chaired by Irsa chief Rao Irshad Ali and attended by provincial members of the body and irrigation secretaries of all four provinces.

Sources say Irsa’s only option is to slash the provinces’ water share since water stored in major reservoirs including Tarbela, Mangla and Chashma is 7% lower than the same period last year.

The three dams have a combined storage capacity of 12.1 million acre feet (MAF), but currently only hold about 5.4 MAF, according to data released on Saturday.

The authority may cut Sindh and Punjab’s shares by 11,000 and 5,000 cubic feet per second (cusecs) respectively if a consensus is arrived at the advisory committee meeting.

After the reduction, Sindh is expected to receive 169,000 cusecs of water against its existing share of 180,000 cusecs, while Punjab would receive a reduced share of 113,000 cusecs of water against 118,000 cusecs.

There would be no cuts in shares of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and they would receive 13,000 cusecs and 3,000 cusecs, respectively.

However, the shortage is expected to be temporary. A senior official of the Pakistan Meteorological Department said that 200 millimetres of rainfall was expected in upper catchment areas of Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa that could ease the water shortage in major reservoirs.

The forecasted 10% more scattered rain in catchment areas could help fill the reservoirs to their maximum capacity by mid-August, he said.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from a Yaleglobal paper on water shortages hindering progress in India and China:

India and China account for one third of the world’s population; each consumes more freshwater than other nations. Per inhabitant per year, though, India uses less than half what’s used in the US, China uses less than one third. This YaleGlobal series examines India and China’s water use, their expectations for rising demand and recognition that shortages will disrupt economic progress. The Planning Commission of India repeatedly warns that water will become a more serious issue than land or energy for India in years to come, points out Rohini Nilekani, in the second article of the series. India’s transition from an economy based on agriculture to a mixed one, with water use controlled by states rather than the federal constitution, already leads to conflicts. She urges planning for a low-water economy: Good governance and regulatory frameworks can prevent pollution and waste, while encouraging efficiency, reliable and fair allocation, and wise consumer choices. – YaleGlobal
----------
BANGALORE: By July this year, the monsoon has established itself vigorously over much of the subcontinent. The anxieties of the long, intense summer months, when nations hold their collective breath in anticipation of the cooling, life-giving rain, have receded. But the region’s1.6 billion people know that next summer, the worres will return.

Water is ultimately a finite resource. With all finite resources, there is a continuous need for sustainable and equitable management, by capping demand, improving efficiencies in supply and developing substitutes. This exercise is complicated by the sociocultural beliefs, values and affinities around this precious resource.

Currently, Indian politics is dominated by controversies over natural-resource management, particularly land acquisition. Although economic liberalization is more than two decades old, there’s little clarity or consensus on the governance and regulatory frameworks for the inevitable land transfers needed for the transition from a primarily domestic and agricultural economy to a mixed and globalized one.


http://yaleglobal.yale.edu/content/water-challenges-asia-powers-part-ii

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an interesting review of Anatol Lieven's book "Pakistan-A Hard Country" by Ahmad Ali Khalid published in Dawn newspaper:

Pakistan is hence not a “failed state’’, but it’s not democratic either. In many ways, it is not a modern nation-state at all, but a social conglomeration defined by the ideals of patronage and kinship. It is this durable socio-economic glue that has kept Pakistan going over the last 63 years. It is not a state in the modern sense at all but awkwardly combines the deep rooted customs of patronage politics with the outer trappings of a democracy. Democracy isn’t a philosophy of life in the country because that space for social deliberation and political negotiation is taken up by pre-modern paradigms of negotiation and conflict resolution. There is no space for democracy in the Pakistani public sphere, not because of radicalism but because of traditionalism.

Pakistani policy makers are in a fix. Advocating reforms of traditionalist feudal structures may pave the way for liberalisation, but as Lieven warns, it may opena Pandora’s box where provincial nationalism ultimately fragments and breaks up any hope of a universal Pakistani narrative. The clientele of the feudal lords to the authority of the Pakistani state is paramount to its continued existence.

Furthermore, the appeal of the Islamist parties does not stem from deep theological commitment to the political project of the “Islamic state’’. On the contrary, it is actually the deep seated aggravations and frustrations with the fragile and anaemic civic, juridical and political organs of the nation’s nascent democracy. It is the failure of the westernised “liberals’’ of Pakistan through their acquiescing to the feudal leadership that has created a space for Islamist protest.

The theocratic Islamist project is one born out of protest, frustration, alienation and anxiety — it is an ideology of “resistance’’. In the words of Khaled Abou El Fadl it is “an orphan of modernity’’ that struggles to find certainty and justice in the messy aftermath of colonialism. In this respect Alaistair Cooke’s study, Resistance — The Essence of Islamist Revolution complements Lieven’s work on this topic.

In many ways Lieven argues that Pakistan is closer to 18th century Europe in terms of its political culture rather than Somalia. Pakistan’s socio-political conservativism also provides the foundations of economic transactions. The resources of the state are not redistributed through modern means, such as welfare politics, as in Europe for instance, but through the same traditional institutions that have loomed large over sub-continental life over the last few hundred years. But stagnation has set in — the landowners of Sindh have kept such monopolistic control over politics that any hope for the emergence of creative enterprise or economic liberalisation is squashed in the rural hinterland. The big landowners are perhaps the most serious obstacle to democratisation, universal education and other cherished virtues of meaningful politics.

The challenge for Pakistan is to develop a distinctly indigenous and organic discourse of democracy that reconciles the conflicting political psychologies at play when operating in a democratic framework and in a feudal framework. But such suggestions in the past have come only from dictators and never from elected representatives.

The challenges, Lieven mentions, are not unique to Pakistan but are rather symptomatic of the post-colonial experience. In fact, the most grievous challenges to Pakistan’s social organisation do not emanate from Islamists but from the brutish forces of mother nature itself. Lieven writes that, “Over the next century, the possible long-term combination of climate change, acute water shortages, poor water infrastructure and steep population growth has the potential to wreck Pakistan as an organised state and society’’.

Riaz Haq said...

US funding of huge dam project in Pakistan angers India, according to Miami Herald:

ISLAMABAD -- Even as U.S.-Pakistani cooperation on anti-terrorism programs is withering, the United States is considering backing the construction of a giant, $12 billion dam in Pakistan that would be the largest civilian aid project the U.S. has undertaken here in decades.

Supporters of a U.S. role in the project say American participation would mend the United States' tattered image, going a long way toward quieting widespread anti-Americanism amid criticism that the U.S. lavishes money on Pakistan's military while doing little for the country's civilian population.

Approval of the project still faces many hurdles. India objects to the dam because it would be in Kashmir, an area that India also claims. The project also is likely to face opposition from Pakistan's critics in the U.S. Congress, who've called for all aid to be cut off after Osama bin Laden was found hiding in northern Pakistan earlier this year. Recent Pakistani actions, including allegations this week that Pakistan had allowed Chinese military experts to inspect the wreckage of an American stealth helicopter that crashed in the bin Laden compound, are likely to inflame such criticism.

Still, proponents of U.S. aid for the project recall that the United States was popular in Pakistan in the 1960s and '70s, when Washington backed the construction of two enormous dams, Tarbela and Mangla.

"Getting involved in a long-term project like this is very compelling for us," said a senior U.S. official who asked not to be identified because no final decision on the project has been made. "This would be a huge demonstration of our commitment to Pakistan and our faith in the country's future."

The Diamer Basha dam would provide enough power to overcome Pakistan's crippling electricity shortage. Proponents of the project also claim that its water storage capacity, in a 50-mile-long lake that would be created behind the dam, would be so great that it would have averted last's years devastating floods, which deluged a fifth of the country, pushed 20 million people out of their homes and caused an estimated $10 billion in damage.

The U.S.-Pakistani alliance since 2001 has been plagued by accusations in Washington that Islamabad is playing a "double game" by secretly supporting Afghan insurgents, while Pakistan thinks it's been bullied into acting against its own interests and that it's been unfairly blamed for American failures in Afghanistan. The unilateral American raid that killed bin Laden in May humiliated Pakistan's powerful military, causing anti-terrorism cooperation to be all but halted.


Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/08/16/2361801/us-considers-funding-pakistani.html#ixzz1W4Cr14es

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Dawn report on water storage capacity expansion efforts to add 20 million acre feet::

ISLAMABAD: With Pakistan increasingly becoming water deficient, Indus River System Authority (Irsa) has drawn up plans for creating capacity to store an additional 20 million acre feet (MAF) of water on ‘war footing’ to keep the economy floating.

The Irsa finalised recommendations in this regard with input from all its members after a former chairman of the authority, Fatehullah Khan Gandapur, set off alarm bells by declaring that Indus Water Treaty (IWT) of 1960 was almost dead because of excessive losses in storage capacity.

Mr Gandapur wrote letters to the president and prime minister in which he said: “The IWT ceases to function as Tarbela and
Mangla reservoirs have lost 6.6MAF of replacement storage due to silting.”

He criticised the team of bureaucrats currently engaged in negotiating the country’s water rights with India and said the officials were simply incapable of handling “an issue of national survival”.

“Blatant violations of the treaty by India by building dozens of low and high dams on all the six rivers and tributaries has exceeded the allowable storage limit of 4.19MAF fixed in the treaty,” he said. So far, the dams have created 10MAF of dead storage and 25-30MAF of live storage, depriving Pakistan of its water rights for Rabi and Kharif crops.

More high dams are under construction.

Sources told Dawn that on the directives of the president and prime minister, the government’s adviser on water and the Irsa members had a marathon briefing session with the former Irsa chairman early this week and finalised recommendations for creation of additional storage capacity. The recommendations would be submitted to the prime minister for approval.

The report on the recommendations says the situation will become worse in the next couple of years. That’s why it is imperative that an additional capacity of 20MAF be created on war footing to protect the agricultural economy.

The Irsa also warned the government about the proposed construction of around a dozen dams by Afghanistan on Kabul river and suggested that talks be initiated immediately with the Afghans for finalising an agreement to protect Pakistan’s water
rights.

The Irsa seconded Mr Gandapur’s proposal for construction of the 37MAF Katzarah Dam near Skardu because it was non-controversial and could enhance the expected life of the downstream dams and barrages, including Tarbela and Diamer-Bhasha.

The authority was also in agreement with Mr Gandapur’s suggestion that the multipurpose 8.5MAF Guroh Dop dam on river Panjkora near Chitral should be built for storing every year about 7-8MAF of water that ultimately falls into Kabul river.

This would stop water from Panjkora from going into Afghan territory. It said a water treaty with Afghanistan was important because Panjkora or Chitral river contributed more than 50 per cent of the Kabul flows.

Mr Gandapur also reminded the government of a report prepared recently by US Senator John Kerry cautioning about a water war in South Asia, saying India had 33 projects at various stages of completion on the rivers that affected the region. He warned that as a consequence of the continued violations of the IWT by India Chenab and Jhelum rivers would turn ‘seasonal’ and Pakistan would not be able to grow Rabi crop and early Kharif crop.

He alleged that the Pakistani authorities had ignored the construction of Uri-II project by India in occupied Kashmir which was an essential part of Kishenganga project. “Pakistani negligence will help India win the controversial Kishenganga case,” he said


http://www.dawn.com/2011/05/19/water-storage-capacity-to-be-raised-by-20maf.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an MSN report on Sen Kerry's Report questioning "whether the IWT can address India''s growing use of the shared waters and Pakistan''s increasing demand for these waters for agricultural purposes":

Washington, Feb 23 (PTI) With an increase in demand for water and energy resources in both India and Pakistan, a Congressional report has questioned the long-term effectiveness of the Indus Water Treaty, which has been successfully implemented for more than six decades between the two South Asian neighbours.
"While the IWT has maintained stability in the region over water, experts question the treaty''s long-term effectiveness in light of chronic tensions between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir region, where a significant portion of the Indus River''s headwaters originate," it said adding that as the existing agriculture system becomes more water-intensive and, in some areas, more inefficient, water may prove to be a source of instability in South Asia.
The report, "Avoiding Water Wars: Water Scarcity and Central Asia�s Growing Importance for Stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan," sheds light on the drivers of water scarcity in Central and South Asia and provides recommendations for how the US should strategically approach water-related issues, particularly in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Written by the majority staff of Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the report draws attention to the growing problem of water scarcity in Central and South Asia and how it has the potential to exacerbate existing regional conflicts and lead to new ones.
"While much of our focus currently rests on Afghanistan and Pakistan, we must also consider the interests in the shared waters by India and the neighbouring five Central Asian countries �Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan," John Kerry, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said in a statement.
"In addition, others question whether the IWT can address India''s growing use of the shared waters and Pakistan''s increasing demand for these waters for agricultural purposes," said the 28-page report.
"Signed in 1960, the IWT is considered as the world''s most successful water treaty, having remained relatively intact for 50 years and having withstood four Indo-Pak wars," it added. .


http://news.in.msn.com/international/article.aspx?cp-documentid=4951409

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Forbes story blaming drought as the main cause of an Indian farmer committing suicide every 30 minutes:

Bt cotton seeds are genetically modified to produce an insecticide that kills Bollworm, a common cotton pest in India. In 2002, the government of India allowed Monsanto to start selling Bt cotton to farmers in India. In the years since, Bt cotton has pervaded cotton farming in India.

As CHRGJ sees it, the problem is this:

Farmers take out loans to purchase the [Bt cotton] seeds, but when the crop fails due to lack of access to water, they often fall into debt. Many kill themselves by consuming the very pesticide they went into debt to purchase.

Bt cotton bears at least partially blame for these tragedies, according to CHRGJ, because it is more water intensive than other cotton seeds. The report cites studies showing that “Bt cotton performs better under irrigated conditions.”

In 2006, the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad, India evaluated the performance of Bt cotton in India based on a survey of Bt cotton farmers and agricultural data. The final study concluded that the yields obtained with irrigation are typically higher than those without irrigation, but that:

in all cases, the yields of Bt cotton are higher than the yields of Non-Bt cotton . . . The results indicate a sizeable impact of Bt cotton on the yield and value of output under both irrigated and unirrigated conditions.

This finding is corroborated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Long-term Agricultural Projections for last year, which described the impact Bt cotton has had on cotton yields in India:

Improved cotton yields in India, largely due to the adoption of hybrid cotton containing the Bt gene, have raised India’s production and exports in recent years. Yield growth is projected to continue as the area planted to hybrid cotton expands and cultivation practices improve. The increase in cotton output is expected to enable India to increase domestic textile production and exports. Its export volume has already surpassed those of Sub-Saharan Africa and Central Asia, and it is expected to maintain this rank throughout the forecast period.

In any event, it should not come as a huge surprise to most cotton farmers that access to water is essential to crop performance. Cotton is an especially thirsty plant. It can take more than 25,000 liters of water to produce a single kilogram of cotton. To put this in perspective, it takes only 500 liters of water to produce a kilogram of potatoes.


http://www.forbes.com/sites/williampentland/2011/05/18/every-30-minutes-an-indian-farmer-commits-suicide-biotech-is-not-to-blame/2/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Express Tribune report on ADB financing of Bhasha dam:

Pakistan and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have agreed to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for technical and financial cooperation in the construction of multi-billion-dollar Diamer-Bhasha Dam.

The MoU will be inked next week, said the Ministry of Water and Power after a meeting between Water and Power Minister Naveed Qamar and the Manila-based lending agency’s Director of Energy Wing Rune Stroem on Friday.

Stroem is leading a delegation to assess detailed engineering design of the dam, which will store 8.5 million acre feet of water for irrigation purposes and generate 4,500 megawatts of electricity.

The delegation, the first formal mission on Diamer-Bhasha Dam, will also review the cost component and consider options to make it a bankable project, as the ADB alone cannot finance the full cost estimated at $11.2 billion.

The government and the ADB also agreed to organise roadshows in three different countries with the assistance of international lenders, equipment suppliers and others concerned for seeking co-financiers for the project, said the water and power ministry.

An official of the Economic Affairs Division said the ADB has not yet formally conveyed the exact size of the loan but there are indications that the agency may extend up to $4.5 billion that will meet 40 per cent of financing needs.

After a refusal in 2008, the World Bank also recently expressed its willingness to finance the project, said the official. The US has also committed to financing the project under the Kerry-Lugar Act, but it also has not given the exact size of its share in the financing.

Stroem said the mission was giving highest priority to Diamer-Bhasha Dam and looking for its early execution. Praising the progress made so far on the project and the efforts to resolve related matters, he said the project would help improve socio-economic life of people and bring prosperity in the country.

Naveed Qamar said the ADB’s role as lead financier of the project would help attract other donors and sponsors to fund mega projects in Pakistan. He said the project would be a milestone for the country’s economy and meet water and power needs.

The government is attaching high priority to the project and has completed all formalities for its construction, hinting at its approval at the Council of Common Interests, the highest constitutional body on inter-provincial matters.

Qamar said most of the land for the project had been acquired and the resettlement package was being implemented. The ADB mission also discussed the energy efficiency programme and matters relating to other mega water and power projects being executed by the government with the cooperation of the bank.

Stroem said the bank was also considering various other projects for financial and technical assistance in the water and power sector.

Matters relating to power sector reforms and rehabilitation of electricity generation companies were also discussed. The mission was told that rehabilitation of power companies was under way, which would be completed at the earliest.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/304366/diamer-bhasha-dam-adb-agrees-to-provide-technical-financial-support/

Riaz Haq said...

ADB asks Pakistan to tie all loose ends to proceed with Bhasha dam construction, according to Daily Times:

The Asian Development Bank (ADB), the lead financer of the Diamer-Bhasha Dam on Tuesday suggested Pakistan to focus on resolution of revenue sharing issue between Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Gilgit Baltistan (GB) as well as affected population and address issues of environment degradation for smooth execution of the mega project.

ADB’s Head of Energy Division Rune Stroem while speaking to a select group of journalists along with the ADB’s Country Director to Pakistan Werner Liepach after conclusion of his visit to Pakistan aimed at ‘critically reviewing the mega project’. He said, “ADB is fully aware that there will be strong debate on revenue sharing and ADB can give advice but at the end the issue will have to be decided by the Council of Common Interests.” The KP government is disputing over the ownership of 18 kilometres long belt with GB government in a bid to get share in income from the power generation. The GB legislative assembly has passed the resolution against the provincial government claim and intends to take the matter to the Supreme Court if it is not amicably resolved.

“Pakistan has not been focusing on social aspects of the project as much as one could hope,” Stroem said and added that the success of the project hangs on local people satisfaction with resettlement activities. “The resettlement work has been done but still there are gaps where the government needs to bring in improvement as per international standards,” he added.

Explaining the gaps, Stroem said individual activities were going on at relatively small scale and lots of pilot projects have been initiated. He said the legal dispute over sharing of revenues between GB and KP has to be worked through and on environment no sufficient work has been done yet.

Stroem said there was a need to ensure minimum water flows during storage to offset negative impact on the environment. He said no water flows at the time of construction and storage will have adverse affects.

Having an estimated cost of $11.20 billion the project is planned to be completed in 12 years that will generate 4,500 megawatts (MW) electricity besides storing 8.5 million acres feet water for agriculture purposes. The project’s groundbreaking has been performed twice. The ADB official said that the agency has not yet fully assessed the price and completion period but the total cost may change due to price escalation.

Stroem said that an unwritten agreement has been reached with the government. According to that the ADB will play its role as senior lender, co-financer and will be the financial adviser to Pakistan on the project. He said next week both the parties will review the draft of the Memorandum of Understanding that clearly defines the role of the ADB in project execution.

He said the project can’t be donor-driven instead the government is the primary driver and it’s cognizant of the fact. The ADB was helping the government to structure the project and make it bankable. “It is the most complex and the most comprehensive project the ADB has ever financed.”

Liepach said that the ADB has not yet framed clear views on the dam financing requirements but the export credit will be major source of financing. Other than the export credit the international financial institutions and commercial financing would also be availed to complete the project, he added. Stroem said the Water and Power Development Authority will evaluate the bids for the project but the ADB will also review to ensure transparency. The ADB has strong anti-corruption policies and the agency’s involvement will give more credit to the project, he added.


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2011\12\14\story_14-12-2011_pg5_9

Riaz Haq said...

Excerpts from The Nation story on $513 million ADB loan for water and power projects in Pakistan:

Pakistan and Asian Development Bank (ADB) has singed two loan agreements worth of $513.24 million that included $270 million for the tranche-2 of the Punjab Irrigated Agriculture Investment Programme (PIAIP) and $243.24 million for tranche-3 of the Power Transmission Enhancement Investment Programme.

Secretary Irrigation Department Punjab and Country Director Asian Development Bank in Pakistan have signed the first agreement of "Punjab Irrigated Agriculture Investment Programme (PIAIP) Tranche-II". This agreement aims at sustainable improved delivery of services for irrigated agriculture and better water management in Punjab. The project aims to provide reliable irrigation supplies to the Lower Chenab Canal Command area.

According to the agreement this project would include construction of a new barrage complex to be located approximately 275 meters downstream of the exiting Khanki Headwork on the river Chenab, which new barrage complex shall include a main weir and under sluice; gats and hosting arrangements; and operating deck and access road bridge. Construction of a canal head regulator adjacent to the new barrage and a lead channel to the existing lower Chenab canal and the dismantling of the existing Khanki Headwork and provision of implementation support to the project executing agency for construction supervision and management expenses of PMO barrage. The project is expected to be completed by the 30th June 2016. Secretary Economic Affairs Division and Country Director Asian Development Bank in Pakistan singed the second agreement Power Transmission Enhancement Investment Programme tracnhe-III.

This agreement targets to enhance the efficiency of the overall power transmission system and to provide an adequate and reliable power supply to a greater number of commercial, industrial and residential consumers. The projects shall comprise following, a new 600km 500 KV transmission line from Jahmshoro to Moro, Daudu and Rahim Yar Khan, a new 500 KV grid stations a Moro and expansion/ augmentation of 3 existing 500 KV grid stations at Jamshoro. Dadu and Rahim Yar Khan. A new 125 KM 220 KV transmission line from UCH-II power plant to the 220-grid station at Sibbi, and a connection between the UCH-I and UCH-II power plants. A new 200 KV grid station at Mansehra and procurement of transmission system equipment. This project is expected to be completed by 31st December 2015.


http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/business/19-Jan-2012/adb-signs-loan-deals-with-pakistan-513-24m-for-power-agriculture

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Express Tribune report on need for water conservation:

FAISALABAD: Adoption of modern water conservation methods and agricultural practices is imperative to cope with water scarcity as Pakistan has been placed in red zone due to low per capita water availability at 1,000 cubic metres.

These were the views of speakers who addressed a seminar titled “Remote sensing and hydrological modelling for irrigation water management”, organised by the Department of Irrigation and Drainage and Water Management Research Centre, University of Agriculture Faisalabad on Saturday.

University Vice Chancellor Dr Iqrar Ahmad said Pakistan was on the verge of water scarcity and should take extra measures to fight the challenge by creating awareness. In 2050, he said, the water situation would be alarming with per capita water availability at 550 cubic metres.

India has 1,600 cubic metres of water per person per year while major European countries have up to twice as much ranging from 2,300 cubic metres in Germany to 3,000 cubic metres in France. Ahmad said remote sensing could help get important data on crop production and irrigation needs.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/348386/pakistan-in-red-zone-as-water-resources-decline/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from an Express Tribune Op ed on water-food-energy triangle:

Food production requires water and energy, the extraction of water requires energy, and energy production requires water. Food prices are highly sensitive to energy costs – which indirectly affect the GDP of a country as high costs of processing, irrigation, fertiliser and transportation affect production and lead to lower exports.

This nexus poses a challenge to governments and population. The lack of energy security, lower agriculture yields and higher cost of relief goods is leading us towards unrest and uncertainty. This threatens our masses, our government and our business as 70 % of our country’s production is dependent on our agricultural sector.

Hunger and poverty are on the rise while we remain clueless about the future. Our reservoirs need to be secure and more dams need to be constructed faster, as draught and famine are fast turning into a possibility.

Agriculture, in Pakistan or elsewhere, consumes more than 70% of global water demand. For example, countries that produce meat require up to 20,000 litres of water for every kilogramme of meat produced, compared to at least 1,200 litres to produce a kilogram of grain. We do not realise the need for secure water resources due to illiteracy and lack of community awareness.

Climate change, in the shape of torrential rains, has also affected our country; we are one of the few countries facing a chronic food emergency today.

Economists forecast that global demand for energy will increase by 40% by 2030, and that this energy will draw heavily on freshwater resources. Over 75% of global demand for energy from 2012-2030, will be dependant on fossil fuels – predominantly coal. The Thar coal reserves need to be developed rapidly, as this is the only way to ensure job security, resource mobilisation, income and prosperity for the population. It makes good business sense for leaders to work on this. Furthermore, we have to ensure fast-tracked building of dams between now and 2015, a failure to do so may lead us to bankruptcy, as people will lose faith in the nation’s ability to sustain itself and business will suffer colossal damages.

We need good business and we need to understand the difference between dependency on others and self reliance. Bad governance is a major issue in Pakistan, eating up business and politics and leading us to ruins. Pakistan faces risks ahead as its next big war will not be over power or money – it will be over food, water or energy. All are vital as we struggle to survive. For Pakistan, failure is not an option.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/351745/the-food-water-energy-nexus--pakistan-walking-a-tightrope/#comment-617375

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an AFP report on World Bank loaning over a billion dollars to Pakistan for hydro energy and drip-sprinkler irrigation projects:

The World Bank said Tuesday it would fund two projects totaling $1.09 billion, in energy and irrigation, aimed at supporting Pakistan's growth agenda for reducing poverty.

The World Bank's executive board approved the projects Tuesday, the development lender said in a statement.

The $840 million Tarbela IV Extension Hydropower Project will add power generation capacity of 1,410 megawatts, contributing a crucial source of electricity for the economic growth and development of Pakistan, the World Bank said.

Only 15 percent of Pakistan's vast hydropower potential has been developed, the Bank noted.

The Tarbela IV Extension Hydropower Project will use the existing dam, tunnel, roads and transmission line for generating additional electricity in summer months when demand for electricity and river flows are high, it added.

"The beauty of this project is that it will help Pakistan reduce the gap between supply and demand of electricity by maximizing the benefits of existing infrastructure of Tarbela Dam without requiring any land acquisition or relocation of population," Rachid Benmessaoud, World Bank country director for Pakistan, said in the statement.

"The direct beneficiaries will be millions of energy users, including industry, households and farmers who would get more electricity at a lower cost and suffer fewer blackouts."

The $250 million Punjab Irrigated Agriculture Productivity Improvement Program Project is aimed at getting maximum productivity out of irrigation water by weaning farmers away from the traditional and "wasteful" flood irrigation, the Bank said.

The project will emphasize more modern methods like drip and sprinkler irrigation systems, which in turn will encourage crop diversification, it said.

The hydropower project includes a $400 million, 21-year loan from the Bank's International Bank of Reconstruction and Development that includes a grace period of six years.

The remaining $440 million of the Tarbela project and $250 million for the irrigation project are credits from the International Development Association, the World Bank's concessionary lending arm.

These 25-year loans have a 1.25 percent interest rate and a five-year grace period, the Bank said.


http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gC8sjJnQh2zAV1dxx-fMAZlKG0FA?docId=CNG.cc5ff6942ce75ef4fd87ae4d1d3fa477.51

Riaz Haq said...

World Bank agrees to fund Dasu Dam in Pakistan, reports Express Tribune:

Following the signing of an agreement with the government of Pakistan for providing $840 million for the 1,410-megawatt Tarbela 4th Extension Project, the World Bank has also agreed to extend financial assistance to the 4,320MW Dasu Hydropower Project.

It has also been agreed that the project will be constructed in phases after work on the 4,500MW Diamer-Bhasha Dam is initiated and its financial plan is finalised.

Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) Chairman Shakil Durrani stated this while presiding over a meeting here at the Wapda House to discuss the report submitted by an international panel of experts.

Addressing the meeting, the Wapda chairman said international financial institutions were taking keen interest in providing funds for Wapda projects due to excellent ‘economic internal rate of return’ (EIRR) of these schemes.

The Dasu project is part of the least-cost energy production plan of Wapda aimed at harnessing the country’s hydropower resources to improve the share of hydroelectricity in energy mix.

The project will be constructed on the Indus River, seven km upstream of Dasu village and 74 km downstream of Diamer-Bhasha Dam. The project is situated on the Karakoram Highway, about 350 km from Islamabad.

According to a statement issued by Wapda, the priority is to construct Diamer-Bhasha Dam for which land acquisition process has already started and 13 contracts for offices, colonies and roads have been awarded.

Dasu Hydropower Project will follow the initiation of work on Diamer-Bhasha Dam. Detailed engineering design, for which the World Bank is providing funds, and tender documents are likely to be completed in early 2013. Afterwards, construction work will commence.

The project will generate 21.3 billion units of electricity per annum and will also have positive impact on existing hydropower stations including Tarbela, Ghazi Barotha and Chashma.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/397368/world-bank-agrees-to-fund-dasu-hydropower-project/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ET Op Ed on water sharing problems in South Asia:

Water availability across our part of the world is already unpredictable due to climate changes with a simultaneous increase in major flooding and severe droughts. A Dutch study has estimated that shrinking Himalayan glaciers will reduce the flow of water to the Indus by around eight per cent over the next four decades. This is not a good sign for Pakistan, which is already described by the UN as one of the world’s “hotspots” as far as water shortages are concerned.

The 1960 Indus Water Basin Treaty, signed at a time when India and Pakistan both had abundant water is now outdated. The Indus Water Treaty gave Pakistan rights over the Indus Valley’s three western rivers, while India controls the three rivers to the east. India has initiated several dam and power station projects on the western rivers, fuelling fears that these activities will alter water flows across the border. India dismisses Pakistan’s fears as paranoia, yet, it too fears that China may attempt to change the course of the Tsangpo/Brahmaputra River in Tibet. India also has tensions with Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal over water sharing.

The existing Indo-Pak water sharing paradigm may no longer be able to address the emergent tensions. Despite numerous rounds of bilateral talks, India and Pakistan are back in the Permanent Court of Arbitration over Indian dam building aspirations in Kashmir.

More innovative approaches have called for an integrated approach towards water management instead of trying to merely divide waters of the Indus basin. Such an approach would not only be more sensitive to the ecological and environmental challenges taking place in the region, but potentially help nudge our neighbouring countries towards broader cooperation as well.

Positive confidence building steps would include greater information sharing concerning river flows. Launching joint Indo-Pak dam ventures such as the Tala Hydroelectric Project, recently initiated between India and Bhutan, would be a further step in the direction of increased cooperation.

Conversely, it is crucial to acknowledge that our existing water woes are being compounded due to wastage, inefficient use and contamination. Water infrastructure systems, such as canals and pipes used to irrigate farm lands, are falling apart due to lack of adequate attention. Application of donor-backed policies like charging flat rates for irrigational water usage (as in Punjab) have not been able to generate the required resources to maintain the irrigational infrastructure, nor do they help ensure that poorer farmers are spared the brunt of revenue collection, or ensured better access to existing water supplies.

The untenable strain on groundwater is another serious issue. According to the World Bank, Indian aquifers are reaching critical conditions despite the fact that over 60 per cent of irrigated agriculture and 85 per cent of drinking water supplies in the country depend on groundwater. The groundwater situation in Pakistan is no better, yet, anyone with the money to pay for diesel can pump out as much water as they like. In fact, Pakistan has been keen to lease out vast tracts of its agricultural land to enable agribusiness companies produce food for Gulf states by tapping even deeper into already shrivelling water aquifers.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/415445/will-water-scarcity-cause-conflict/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Wall Street Journal story on Indian farmers' dependence on rain:

The southwest monsoon arrives over India mainly via winds from the Arabian Sea. It usually hits the mainland through the southern state of Kerala by late May or early June and then gradually moves north to cover the entire country by mid-July.

The timing, distribution and quantity of monsoon rains are vital to India's agriculture sector and economy. Nearly two-thirds of the country's farmlands are rain-fed, and about 600 million people are dependent directly or indirectly on agriculture. Agriculture accounts for 17% of gross domestic product.

This year, the monsoon arrived late over Kerala. Its progress over the rest of India has been sporadic, and rains have failed to pick up over eastern and northwestern parts of the country.

To date, rainfall is about 17% below the 50-year average, But in northwestern grain bowl states such as Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan the deficiency has been much worse, with rainfall of 60%-70% below average.

Parts of the western states of Gujarat and Maharashtra and the southern state of Karnataka have also been affected with the rainfall deficiency ranging from 30% to 70%.

How the monsoon gathers momentum as it progresses toward India's mainland varies from year to year. D.S Pai, head of long-range forecasting in the India Meteorological Department, said this year, the build-up of moisture-laden monsoon winds from the Arabian Sea had been weak and had shifted toward the eastern half of the country from the west due to the play of certain sea winds.

El Niño, a weather phenomenon that usually disrupts rainfall in India, is also expected to emerge in September and could further deepen the crisis. Recently, the India Meteorological Department said that rainfall through the monsoon season is likely to be 85% of the long-period average.


http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443792604577575323402758832.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ET report on Russian interest in building Diamer Bhasha dam:

Russia is seeking direct award of a construction contract for the $13 billion Diamer Bhasha Dam in a government-to-government deal without resorting to international competitive bidding, sources say.

Faced with water and power shortages, Pakistan is looking for funds from China and Russia, who in turn want a government-to-government deal without international bidding.

The government’s search for funds came after multilateral donors asked Pakistan to get a no-objection certificate from India for the dam’s construction.

China and Russia want a similar arrangement for undertaking the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project, which has faced fierce opposition from the United States.

According to sources, Pakistan and Russia are likely to strike a final deal on the dam during visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to Islamabad next month.

“A meeting of Pak-Russia inter-ministerial commission will be held before the visit of Russian president, which will work out a mechanism for financing mega projects,” a government official said.

In a meeting of the Inter-governmental Commission (IGC) held here on Monday, government officials gave a detailed briefing to the Russian team on planned energy projects. However, sources said, Russia made no firm commitment to the dam.

According to the official, it was just a preparatory meeting to discuss different projects, which could be tabled during deliberations with the Russian president.

In the IGC meeting, the Russian side was told that Bhasha Dam was a strategic project with power generation capacity of 4,500 megawatts to overcome the energy crisis. It will have water storage capacity of 8.5 million acre feet to feed the agricultural sector.

Chinese offer

The Chinese government has already offered Pakistan skilled labour for the construction of Bhasha Dam. China has 17,000 skilled workers, who have worked on the giant Three Gorges Dam, which is producing 30,000 megawatts of electricity.

On the other hand, multilateral donors have asked Pakistan to seek a no-objection certificate from India to pave the way for financing the dam, which they say is situated in a disputed territory. Instead, they have offered to finance another project – Dasu hydropower, but the government has rejected the plan and wants to complete Bhasha Dam first.

On Monday, a delegation of the World Bank, headed by Country Director Rachid Benmessaud, called on Federal Water and Power Minister Ahmed Mukhtar and once again offered to finance phase-I of the Dasu project.

Dasu hydropower project is situated 7 km upstream of Dasu village on Indus River and 350 km from Islamabad. The project is located in Kohistan district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/435035/diamer-bhasha-dam-russia-wants-to-take-up-project-without-bidding/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BR report on WB and ADB financing infrastructure projects in Pakistan:

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has signed eight new projects worth $2.24 billion with the World Bank while six projects of $69 million have been signed with Multi Donor Trust Fund (MDTF) during the last fiscal year.



Documents obtained by this correspondent showed that the Project of Tertiary Education worth $300 million, Social Safety Net TA Additional Financing of $150 million, Tarbela (Fourth Extension) worth $840 million, Punjab Irrigated Agriculture Productivity Project $250 million, Natural Gas Efficiency Project $200 million, Punjab Education Sector program worth $350 million, Sindh Skill Development of $21 million and Highway Rehabilitation Additional Financing project worth $130 million were signed between Pakistan and the World Bank during 2011-12.



The projects of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Emergency Road Recovery Project worth $8 million, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Fata Economic Revitalisation Project $20 million, KP Fata Governance Support Project of $6 million, Fata Rural Livelihood and Community Infrastructure worth $12 million, Fata Urban Centre Project of $7 million and the project of Revitalizing Health Services in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa worth $16 million are the projects signed by Pakistan with MDTF.



Documents also showed that the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) active portfolio in Pakistan comprised $3.3 billion in loans for 23 ongoing projects: $143 million in grants and $9.37 million in technical assistance as of June 30 this year. In terms of lending modality, the Multi tranche financing Facility accounted for 49 percent of the portfolio and project leans at 41 percent while disbursement achieved during FY 2011-2012 amounted to $429.4 million.



One of the key pillars of reform in the power sector of Pakistan is to enhance power generation, replacement of inefficient plants and improve the transmission and distribution system. In this regard, ADB has committed a financing facility of $2.9 billion over medium-term.



Documents also showed that the ADB organised 55 capacity-building initiatives for 2011-12 for Pakistan in areas of irrigation, energy, transport, environmental safeguards, gender statistics, poverty reduction, regulatory practices, financial inclusion approaches, sustainable and millennium development goals, taxation, public sector management, planning, budgeting and evaluation, foreign direct investment, procurement, project processing and regional integration.


http://www.brecorder.com/top-news/1-front-top-news/84391-pakistan-wb-sign-eight-new-projects-worth-224bn-.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Dawn Op Ed by Pak hydrologist Dr. Hasan Abbas:

...Do we produce enough electric power in Pakistan? No. Do we have enough water storage capacity? Well, it depends on 1) how we define ‘enough’; and 2) ‘where’ we want to store. Of all the available water in the Indus basin of Pakistan, approximately 95 per cent is directed to agriculture of which over 70 per cent goes waste; less than 30 per cent of it is the actual requirement for the crops we grow.

---

We can build a new dam to store water, or we can use an available storage space in the form of natural ‘aquifers’. Current knowledge of hydrogeology tells us that water storage is carried out better in aquifers than in dams.

If only we refill the depleted aquifers under the city of Lahore, we can store more water than the Tarbela reservoir — that too with the least social and environmental impact.

Rachna, Thal and Bari Doabs all offer excellent aquifers which could be exploited for storage, offering a potential storage capacity hundreds of times more than that of Tarbela, Mangla and Kalabagh combined. Although refilling an aquifer would be expensive, it would be much cheaper than building a large dam.

What about power? Do we need a dam for it? Let’s do some simple math here: the dam building might cost $10 billion with an estimated generation capacity of 5GW. This power, however, enters the grid only after completion of the dam which might take, say, 15 years.

With the prevailing technology of solar power, it costs approximately 90 cents to produce one watt. Given $10bn, we produce 10GW and production can start within the first few months of the project, progressively reaching 10GW in, say, two years.

So what is better — $10bn for 10GW in two years or $10bn for 5GW after 15 years plus the huge social and environmental impact?

---

The donor countries also share part of the project proportionate to their share of ‘donation’, thus creating jobs and businesses for their own citizens involved in that project. With this, their ‘donated’ capital comes back to re-circulate within their own economies, while the economy of the country being ‘helped’ hardly benefits.

Till the project is complete, the host country accumulates a huge debt, plus interest, without having earned anything. As soon as the project starts delivering, the host country is obliged to meet the loan repayment schedule.

The lending agencies yet again dictate the price of economic goods delivered by the project to match the repayment instalments. The host government returns the loan with interest by making its citizens pay a higher price (than the actual production cost) over a period of 30 years or so.

By the time loans are paid back the project has already lived its useful life and is in a state requiring major overhauls. For example, the lake behind a dam is silted and the power-generating infrastructure is in need of critical repairs and replacements.

This is usually the time when teams of ‘experts’ on behalf of the lending agencies start appearing on the scene yet again, ‘advising and warning’ the host government on the ‘next mega project’ which is deemed ‘absolutely necessary’ to fix the ‘critical’ problems they have identified, or else face doom.

Poor countries like us end up ‘raising the dykes of Mangla dam’ and then keep paying for the facility which they thought they had already paid for. Now we know who are the ‘experts’, where they come from, and why they ‘care’.

---

Building a large dam for water management and electricity generation is an expensive, unsustainable and outdated idea. Today’s knowledge offers far more economical and sustainable solutions. We must get our investment priorities right — using vision, foresight and the latest knowledge at hand.


http://dawn.com/2012/12/16/kalabagh-the-other-view/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a NY Times blog post on India's planned dams and India's lack of concern for environmental impact on India ad reduction of water for Pakistan and Bangladesh:

...India’s government was grappling with growing pressure to increase the dependability of its electricity service — for the growing numbers who have intermittent power and the 400 million who live without it.

As a solution, the government proposed constructing 292 dams throughout the Indian Himalayas — roughly a dam every 20 miles. If completed, the 7,000- to 11,000-megawatt dams would double the country’s hydropower capacity and meet about 6 percent of the national energy needs projected for 2030 (based upon 8 percent annual growth of the nation’s domestic product). The dams, the reasoning goes, would provide electricity to needy people as well as offset carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants.

Scientists and citizens alike are crying foul, however, pointing out that the dams will probably displace millions and wreck ecosystems throughout the Himalayas.

No binding provisions are in place to ensure that displaced people receive adequate compensation and help with resettlement — and most of the projects are proceeding without adequate environmental impact surveys.

“The key issue is that there’s no requirement in India’s law to do cumulative impact assessments,” said R. Edward Grumbine, a senior international scientist at the Chinese Academy of Science’s Kunming Institute of Botany. Dr. Grumbine and his colleague, Mahara Pandit at the University of Delhi, wrote one of the first scientific papers discussing the dams, recently published in Science.

--------------
How these dams may affect communities and ecosystems in neighboring downstream countries like Bangladesh and Pakistan is little discussed.

Climate change offers a further strike against the projects. By 2050, scientists predict, the water supply from the Brahmaputra and Indus — two major rivers among the 28 that would receive dams — will decrease by about 20 percent and 8 percent, respectively. Those reductions would in turn cut the rivers’ capacity to produce electricity, undermining the dams’ purpose.


http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/07/hobbled-on-energy-india-ponders-a-multitude-of-dams/

HopeWins Junior said...

^^RH: "Here's a recent article in Dawn on India-Pak water issues:

Another take on the issue comes from John Briscoe, a South African expert..."
-----

Here is John Briscoe saying PAKISTAN HAS WON the arbitration!

http://alturl.com/rczhr

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a piece on how low Pakistan is on water with just one-month storage left:

Pakistan is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to the impacts of climate change due to its location, population and environmental degradation. According to a 2013 report from the Asian Development Bank, Pakistan has one month of water supply on hand. The recommended amount is 1,000 days. 80 percent of Pakistan’s agriculture relies on irrigation from the overstressed water system.
Pakistan’s average temperature is expected to increase around 3 degrees Celsius within the next 50 years — this will make food and water challenges even more taxing. A new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change concludes that people are already migrating out of the Pakistan for just these reasons.
The study, which focuses on rural Pakistan, found “that flooding — a climate shock associated with large relief efforts — has modest to insignificant impacts on migration. Heat stress, however — which has attracted relatively little relief — consistently increases the long-term migration of men, driven by a negative effect on farm and non-farm income.”
It goes on to state that “agriculture suffers tremendously when temperatures are extremely hot … wiping out over a third of farming income.”
For those in Pakistan relying on the large timber industry for their livelihoods, the outlook is also grim. Deforestation is a major problem in Pakistan, with the country only retaining between two and five percent of its tree cover. About 43,000 hectares, or 166 square miles, of forest are cleared annually. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, this is the highest deforestation rate in Asia.
Deforestation is not an easy problem to address. Each of Pakistan’s five provinces has its own deforestation laws. There is a strong timber mafia that has a hold over many local and timber officials. And recently a shortage of natural gas for heating and cooking has led to an increase in the country’s middle-class cutting down trees for energy use. Pakistan’s population has more than quadrupled since it was founded in 1947, and the country now has an estimated 180 million residents. Deforestation contributes to flooding, and in 2010 Pakistan experienced devastating floods after a strong monsoon season that killed around 2,000 people.
“There is no doubt that deforestation is threatening the livelihoods of many poor people in our country who depend on the forests for their fuel and livelihood needs,” Syed Mohammad Ali, a development consultant, wrote in an op-ed last year. “Deforestation is also blamed for exacerbating the damage caused by natural disasters such as floods and landslides, since the absence of tree cover causes soil erosion and diminishes groundwater absorption. Researchers have also identified deforestation as a major factor behind expansion of the country’s heat zone, reduced flow in the Indus River as well as shrinkage of the Indus River Delta.”
In December the World Bank gave Pakistan nearly $4 million to study deforestation and how to address it. Naeem Ashraf Raja, the director of Pakistan’s biodiversity program, told the Washington Post that “officials also hope to convince the United States and other foreign donors to help launch programs to compensate landowners who agree not to cut trees......


http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/02/03/3238781/deforestation-water-energy-pakistan/

Riaz Haq said...

Couple of reports on Pakistani politicians promising water projects:

The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) government in Sindh province of Pakistan is installing 683 solar-powered reverse osmosis plants in the drought-hit areas of Tharparkar and other arid regions to provide 10,000 gallons of safe drinking water daily.

“As the world observes International Water Day, we reiterate our commitment to ensuring a well-irrigated and greener Sindh and Pakistan,” PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said in a statement released on Sunday.

According to Bilawal, the PPP government has initiated the renewal of 3,420 miles of canals and embankments, construction and repair of 3,890 water courses, installation of 1,762 tube wells, introduction of sprinkle-and-drip irrigation systems and rain guns, and renovation and repair of the Sukkur Barrage, the Dawn online reported.

Five-hundred water treatment plants would be set up in the towns of Keamari and Lyari in Karachi and the world’s biggest water filtration plant would be set up in the district of Shaheed Benazirabad, also in Sindh province, he added.

The Desert Rangers Force has also joined the civil administration in relief operation and for providing drinking water to the drought-hit people of Cholistan. This was stated by Bahawalpur Sector Commander of Desert Rangers Brigadier Riazul Hassan.

The sector commander said that the relief operation regarding the provision of drinking water to the human population in the desert had been launched at the request of the civil administration.

He said drinking water was supplied to thousands of inhabitants staying around the Bijnot and Rhenalwala open water ponds, which had gone dry because of the dry spell. He said these two ponds were around 160 kilometres far....


http://www.omantribune.com/index.php?page=news&id=164259&heading=Pakistan

Development minister says National Water Policy in the offing soon
Pakistan Water Summit 2014 highlights themes including groundwater sustainability, trans-boundary waters, water-food-energy nexus and innovative financing for water infrastructure among others
Federal Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal said on Thursday that the government was taking strong measures to avoid water crisis in the country.

“Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif recreated Ministry of Planning and Development with a view not to repeat past mistakes in terms of water and this summit was a step towards evolving National Water Policy which would soon be announced by the government”, the federal minister said while addressing Pakistan Water Summit 2014.

Federal Minister for National Food and Agriculture Research Sikandar Hayat Bosan, Minister for Inter-provincial Coordination Riaz Hussain Pirzada and other officials were also present on the occasion. He said the summit comprises of 14 themes and the experts would present their opinions on these themes.

The 14 themes of the summit include groundwater sustainability, trans-boundary waters, understanding water security and impacts on national security, water-food-energy nexus, innovative financing for water infrastructure, drinking water and sanitation, water technologies for 21st century, climate change impacts on water availability(droughts, floods, glaciers), research and education for water secure future, industrial effluent, water infrastructure, development reforms, system efficiency for urban utilities, agriculture water productivity.


http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2014/03/20/city/islamabad/ahsan-iqbal-digging-deep-for-water/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Dawn story on World Bank report on infrastructure deficiency in South Asia:

ISLAMABAD: South Asia should spend as much as $2.5 trillion on infrastructure by 2020 to bring its power grids, roads and water supplies up to the standard required to serve its growing population, said a World Bank report on Wednesday.

“If South Asia hopes to meet its development goals and not risk slowing down — or even halting — growth, poverty alleviation and shared prosperity… it is essential to make closing its huge infrastructure gap a priority,” the report said in probably the first analysis of the region’s infrastructure needs.

The report, entitled “Reducing poverty by closing South Asia’s infrastructure gap”, says that “infrastructure deficiencies in South Asia are enormous, and a mix of investment in infrastructure stock and implementing supportive reforms will enable the region to close its infrastructure gap”.

Pakistan should invest $165 billion over ten years in improving infrastructure in transport, electricity, water and sanitation, solid waste, telecom and irrigation sectors, according to the report.

For the required investment in electricity sector of up to $96bn, Pakistan should generate funds through government-private sector partnership, the report said.

The average share of Pakistan in the total infrastructural investment in South Asia is only 12 per cent compared to 79 per cent by India, the report says.


http://www.dawn.com/news/1097656/s-asia-should-spend-more-to-serve-its-growing-population-report

Riaz Haq said...

Sunday, July 06, 2014 - OBVIOUSLY, Arid Varsity by virtue of its name is known as a last line of defense against water scarcity, and joining the ranks & files by the present Vice Chancellor furthered the notion of its emergence as a change agent, especially for rainfed and dry land agriculture. Metrological footprints of Pakistan reveal abundant rainfall ranging from 200mm to 1500mm per annum, but our ignorance as a nation put us besides the lines by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1798) while sailing in the ocean said “Water Water Every Where, Nor Any Drop to Drink”. By turning the coin, situation seems more pathetic, as this country faces mayhem of floods claiming thousands of lives, economic devastation and convert booming crops into inundated, almost every year. Is that not a dark side of the situation demanding an action oriented policy by the higher ranks of the country?
------------
In this program 5 farm ponds with a capacity of 55 acre-ft of water have been excavated. Experience indicates that these ponds were filled to their capacity in early rain showers of the monsoon season 2013. It can be safely opined, farm ponds of same size or even larger capacity for rain harvesting in the region are imperative to cater the crop husbandry in the years to come. The University has prepared a program of raising high value crops from these ponds. The developed farm ponds are sufficient to irrigate an area of 150 acres orchard crops including olive, grapes, citrus, fig, apricot, almond, pears besides tunnel vegetables especially tomato, cucumber, etc. using drip irrigation. The University rain harvesting model is meant for production and knowledge dissemination to the Pothwar farmers. Experts understand that rainwater harvesting can be extended to other parts of the country even in irrigated area and especially with sloping lands such as Cholistan, Thar, Thal, Baluchistan, KPK and AJK. Being a water professional Prof. Dr. Rai Niaz Ahmad, Vice Chancellor played a pivotal role for initiation and completion of this pilot project at the Farm.
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Ground water provides a huge natural reservoir, for instance, Rechna Doab (area between Ravi and Chena) alone equates the capacity of 5 Mangla reservoirs. This is a loud and clear message for our policy makers considering option of harvesting flood water in the groundwater reservoirs, since the flood flows carry around 30 to 40 MAF of water every year to the Arabian Sea whereas the minimum flow required to the sea is only 10 MAF. These ponds would be greatly contributing towards recharge of groundwater reservoir, which is under threat at the moment.
----------------
The rooftop rainwater harvesting in the urban areas provides another opportunity for kitchen gardening of vegetables for domestic at household level. The practice of kitchen gardening is very famous and popular in most of the developed world where rooftop rainwater is harvested and used for vegetation. It is worth considering that devastation witnessed during the monsoon floods in Pakistan can be minimized if flooding waters are ponded both at upstream and downstream along the river banks as practiced in other parts of the world. In view of all this, Govt. of Pakistan needs to initiate a comprehensive program on rain/flood water management. Pir Mehr Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University, Rawalpindi offers its services for preparing a mega project for rainwater harvesting both and urban rural areas of Pakistan.

http://pakobserver.net/detailnews.asp?id=246356

Riaz Haq said...

Today Pakistan is home to the biggest earth-filled dam in the world at Tarbela, just north of Islamabad, and more than 150 others classed as "large".

With more than 30 per cent of its power coming from hydro-electric sources, such structures are also crucial to help alleviate a chronic energy crisis that has put a brake on industry.

But a campaign for non-structural measures to contain flooding is gradually gaining ground - with proponents arguing that man-made interventions can, counter-intuitively, exacerbate the floods.

There are two major arguments - the build-up of sediment in a dam shortens its useful lifespan, while the slowing of rivers due to the structures means that silt accumulates, decreasing their capacity.

Kaisar Bengali, who advises the chief minister of Baluchistan, said: "Dams create floods, dams don't prevent floods. When the floods occur, if you have a storage area you can store the water in that area. Dams have a reservoir so they create a lake. Barrages divert the water into canals. They don't have a reservoir."

Decisions on whether to release water are also controversial - dam managers may seek to keep reservoirs full for energy generation, whereas an early release could lessen floods.

Mushtaq Gaadi, an academic at Islamabad's Quaid-e-Azam university, noted that some of this year's worst flooding occurred in the Chenab river, where a key structure had lost significant discharge capacity due to the build-up of sediment.

"The most important and critical infrastructure at Chenab is Trimmu [barrage] which was built during the British era.

"Its discharge capacity has been drastically reduced. It was not capable of discharging more than 600,000 cusecs. Mainly due to the rising of the river bed level," due to silting.

Dams and barrages are difficult and expensive to de-silt and maintain, forcing Pakistan to turn to help from agencies such as the World Bank.

With the World Bank's aid, Pakistan completed its renovation of the Taunsa barrage in central Punjab province in early 2010 at a cost of US$144 million - only to see an embankment upstream of the structure catastrophically fail when the floods came in August.

This year, Pakistan was again forced to blow up dykes to divert flood waters from cities to less densely populated areas.

Dams are also responsible for luring people into harm's way by creating a false sense of security in areas that are naturally fertile flood zones. Many of 2014's almost 300 deaths could have been prevented had villagers not been living in such areas, said Gaadi.

Yet the government believes that more, not fewer dams are the solution, and has vowed to press ahead with new projects - such as the Diamer-Bhasha Dam in northern Gilgit Baltistan, projected to cost US$14 billion.

Shafiq-ur-Rehman, an environmental sciences professor at the University of Peshawar, said it showed a lack of long-term planning. "First we build dykes and spend millions of rupees on them and then we blow them up and drown people to save cities or other areas," he said.

http://www.scmp.com/news/asia/article/1597597/dammed-if-they-dopakistans-dykes-are-making-flooding-worse-not-better

Riaz Haq said...

The depletion of groundwater in Pakistan is likely to set an alarm bells ringing in the newly elected government which is already hit hard by massive power shortage, terrorism and economic downturn.

The underground water in is running out on fast pace as per capita availability of water drops to 990 cubic meters in 2013 as compared to 5,650 cubic meters in 1947. While India has 1,600 cubic metres of water per person per year while major European countries have up to twice as much ranging from 2,300 cubic metres in Germany to 3,000 cubic metres in France.

Owing to lurking water crises, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has placed Pakistan in red zone categorizing it as water-stressed country which is likely to face an acute water shortage over the next five years due to the lack of water availability for irrigation, industry and human consumption. If the downward trend prevails, it is likely that ground water table will nosedive more and in the result per capita availability will touch 800 cubic metres by 2020.

Moreover, the United Nations has lined up Pakistan among the “water hotspots” of Asia-Pacific Region, saying that the country faces major threats of increasing water scarcity, high water utilisation, deteriorating water quality and climate change risk.

According to Punjab irrigation department, Pakistan’s important government entity that monitors the level and quality of water before 1947, water table is going down 3 feet per year. Quoting the example of Lahore, most urbanised and densely populated city of Pakistan, it said that 20 years back water is extracted at 20 or 40 feet and now drilling has to be done at 800 feet to reach the water. Unchecked installation of tube wells aggravated situation. As per estimates, there is a continuous increase in the development of groundwater irrigation by tube wells. In the country the numbers of public and private tube wells installed (as per the source of Economic survey of Pakistan) in 2000-01 were 659,278 while in 2012-13 the amount of tube wells installed rose to 1175,073. With this phenomenon annual extraction of water has swelled up to 51 million-acre feet of water.

Irrigation Research Institute (IRI) deputy director Dr. Muhammad Javed said that multiple reasons accounted for the water depletion. “One of the major one is over-extraction or over-pumping of ground water. Water is being sucked out but recharge system that refill the ground water is not in place or mismanaged. Total discharge (withdrawal) of ground water is at 37 Million Acres Feet (MAF) against recharge (refilling) at 30 MAF, he added and said that it showed that a big gap is between discharge and recharge system.

Second vital cause for water scarcity is poor planning to store water. Pakistan has just 3 dams and scores of small barrages as compared to china having 22,000 and India 4,200 small and big dams. “Pakistan’s storage capacity is just for 30 days, whereas India has the ability to store water for 120-220 days,” Water and Power Development Authority Engineer Dr Rahim Buksh responded to a query. Meanwhile, Egypt has 1,000 days water storage capacity only on River Nile, America 900 days on River Colorado, Australia 600 and South Africa has the ability to store water for 500 days on River Orange.

“The per capita storage capacity in the United States stands at 6,150 cubic metres, in Australia 5,000 cubic metres but in Pakistan it is just 132 cubic metres that show how vulnerable 180 million Pakistanis are in terms of water availability,” he went on saying.



http://www.eurasiareview.com/13072013-groundwater-depletion-another-crisis-looming-in-pakistan-oped/

Riaz Haq said...

Energy-starved Pakistanis, their economy battered by chronic fuel and electricity shortages, may soon have to contend with a new resource crisis: major water shortages, the Pakistani government warned this week.

A combination of global climate change and local waste and mismanagement have led to an alarmingly rapid depletion of Pakistan’s water supply, said the minister for water and energy, Khawaja Muhammad Asif.

“Under the present situation, in the next six to seven years, Pakistan can be a water-starved country,” Mr. Asif said in an interview, echoing a warning that he first issued at a news conference in Lahore this week.

The prospect of a major water crisis in Pakistan, even if several years distant, offers a stark reminder of a growing challenge in other poor and densely populated countries that are vulnerable to global climate change.

In Pakistan, it poses a further challenge to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, whose government has already come under sharp criticism for failing to end the country’s electricity crisis. In some rural areas, heavy rationing has meant that as little as four hours of electricity a day is available.

In the interview, Mr. Asif said the government had started to bring the electricity crisis under control, and predicted a return to normal supply by 2017. But energy experts are less confident that such a turnaround is possible, given how long and complex the problem has proved.

Now, the country’s water supply looms as a resource challenge, intensified by Pakistan's lasting infrastructure and management problems.

Agriculture is a cornerstone of the Pakistani economy. The 2,000-mile-long Indus River, which rises in the Himalayas and spans the country, feeds a vast network of irrigation canals that line fields producing wheat, vegetables and cotton, all major sources of foreign currency. In the north, hydroelectric power stations are a cornerstone of the creaking power system.

A combination of melting glaciers, decreasing rainfall and chronic mismanagement by successive governments has put that water supply in danger, experts say.

In a report published in 2013, the Asian Development Bank described Pakistan as one of the most “water-stressed” countries in the world, with a water availability of 1,000 cubic meters per person per year — a fivefold drop since independence in 1947, and about the same level as drought-stricken Ethiopia.

“It is a very serious situation,” said Pervaiz Amir, country director for the Pakistan Water Partnership. “I feel it is going to be more serious than the recent oil shortages.”

Resources shortages have climbed to the top of the political agenda in recent years. Fuel shortages last month, for which government officials blamed mismanagement by the national oil company, caused lengthy lines outside fuel stations that embarrassed the government at a time of low global oil prices.
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One major culprit in Pakistan’s looming water crisis, experts say, is the country’s inadequate water storage facilities. In India, about one-third of the water supply is stored in reservoirs, compared with just 9 percent in Pakistan, Mr. Amir said.

“We built our last dam 46 years ago,” he said. “India has built 4,000 dams, with another 150 in the pipeline.”

Experts say the country’s chaotic policies are hurting its image in the eyes of Western donors who could help alleviate the mounting resource crises.

“The biggest looming crisis is of governance, not water — which could make this country unlivable in the next few years,” said Arshad H. Abbasi, a water and energy expert with the Sustainable Development and Policy Institute, a research group based in Islamabad.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/13/world/asia/pakistan-braces-for-major-water-shortages.html

Riaz Haq said...

Knut Oberhagemann, a water expert in Dhaka, Bangladesh, says that the flow of the mighty Ganges where it enters Bangladesh is at times a pitiful few hundred cubic metres a second, so low that “you can walk across the river”. When the same river, at this point called the Padma, reaches the coast, it is often so feeble that the sea intrudes, poisoning the land with salt.

http://www.economist.com/node/21538687

Riaz Haq said...

The ongoing drought presents an obvious case for such an undertaking, as do the outdated methods we use to measure water concentration. Nearly two-thirds of California’s water supply comes from snowmelt out of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, but estimates of the volume of snowpack are rough at best. As they have been doing for over a century, state surveyors make their estimates by planting measuring poles in a handful of locations in the mountains. They complement that method with a technology they have been using since the 1980s: scattering the landscape with scales that weigh the snow that falls on them.

When you look at the snapshots, the melting ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica pop off the map. The next most prominent indicators of water displacement are the retreating glaciers: Alaska and Patagonia. “They’re just melting like crazy,” says J.T. Reager, one of Famiglietti’s colleagues. (The Himalayan glaciers are melting, too, but since they’re inland the water doesn’t displace as visibly, so the signal is more muted.) Then comes the drainage of some of the world’s major underground basins: India-Pakistan, the Middle East, and California. In the northern latitudes and the tropics, there are also broad belts of blue signals, possibly due to the increase in moisture moving from the cool oceans to the warming continents. The net result is a dichotomous planet, in which the dry regions are becoming drier, and the wet regions wetter.

To measure the volume of the aquifers, which are being depleted in California at a catastrophic rate, researchers can’t do much better than making educated guesses based on how far wells have to be drilled in order to hit water tables. Even reservoirs defy accurate measurement, due to our limited understanding of the ways that sediment settles and how that changes the shape of lake floors. “Hydrology is nothing but a data gap,” Cédric David, a young, scruffy French hydrologist on Famiglietti’s team, who specializes in river systems, told me. “Pretty much, we don’t know anything.”



NASA took a big step toward filling that data gap in 2002 with the launch of the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment—GRACE—by engineers at JPL and the University of Texas. GRACE is composed of two satellites, each about the size of a Volkswagen Bug. The pair orbits around the world, with a distance of 250 kilometers between them. As one approaches a mountain range, or any part of the world where the crust of the earth is thicker or denser than elsewhere, the force of gravity acting upon that satellite increases as a function of the greater planetary mass beneath it. The result is a slight acceleration. Where there is a basin, the pull is slightly less; the satellite drags.

http://www.newrepublic.com/article/121904/nasa-satellites-give-full-devastating-picture-drought

Riaz Haq said...

Rainwater harvesting brings hope to farmers in #Pakistan’s #Punjab. #Water http://scroll.in/article/801240/rainwater-harvesting-brings-hope-to-farmers-in-pakistans-punjab … via @scroll_in

Extreme weather conditions and erratic rainfall had added an edge of desperation to Muhammad Khan’s struggle for survival, taking him and his family to the brink of ruin. But that is happily in the past now, says the farmer in Pakistan’s Punjab province whose life has undergone a dramatic change after he started irrigating his land from rainwater harvested in a small dam in the village.

“I had a bumper vegetable crop in the last season. I have recently bought a new tractor and also started sending two of my grandsons to a private school,” said the 65-year-old resident of Thoa Mehram Khan village in Punjab’s Talagang sub-district.

With the bounty of plentiful water, Khan has been irrigating 16 acres of his 50 acres of land from the small dam and growing off-season vegetables like tomatoes, potatoes and cauliflower as well as fruits such as grapes and watermelons. This was unthinkable earlier.

He is not the only one. Others in the village are also cultivating newer crops on land that was arid not so long ago. Rainwater harvesting is a relatively new and innovative concept for many farmers in the region who are delighted to have water for crops and livestock throughout the year.

“Rainwater harvesting has also helped raise the groundwater table from 450 feet to 200 feet in the village,” says Khan. “This is also inspiring people of nearby villages to pool money for building mini dams so they can reap the benefits of modern agriculture.”

To construct a mini dam for rainwater harvesting, a natural stream or nullah (water channel) near farmland is identified and then choked by building a wall in the front. An engine is installed and water supplied to farms through a pipeline.

The small dam, which is 15 feet in height, is built on government land in the village and has a catchment area of one square kilometre, a command area of 250 kanals (about 500 square metres) and storage capacity 29.21 acres/feet.

The cost of the $4,279 project, which has changed so many lives, was shared by 20 families of the village and by the International Fund for Agricultural Development, both sides paying $2,139, an official said.

The importance of harvesting water is underscored by a research paper published by the Pakistan Journal of Agricultural Sciences, which estimates that the Potohar Plateau, including the Chakwal, Jhelum, Attock and Rawalpindi districts of Punjab province, covers an area of 2.2 million hectares and receives as much as 70% of its precipitation in just the monsoon season.

On top of this, groundwater supplies are depleting at 16 to 55 centimetres (6 to 21 inches) a year across Punjab province, according to a study by the International Waterlogging and Salinity Research Institute.

Going macro

An estimated 64% of the country’s population lives in rural areas and earns a living from agricultural activities such as crop cultivation and livestock rearing, according to the 2010 agricultural census carried out by Pakistan Bureau of Statistics. There are 50,588 villages in Pakistan but all may not have terrain suitable for rainwater harvesting. The Potohar Plateau is believed to be the most suitable area in the country for natural places for rainwater harvesting with experts identifying 74 sites.

Around 145 million acre feet of water flows through Pakistan each year, but the country’s existing storage capacity is only 14 million acre feet. “Small dams and rainwater harvesting techniques could help the country increase its water storage capacity from 30 days to the international standard of 120 days,” said Dr Pervaiz Amir, country director for the Pakistan Water Partnership.

Riaz Haq said...

Answer to #UAE's water security crisis could lie in #Pakistan's Dasht River, says head of Geowash

http://www.thenational.ae/uae/environment/answer-to-uaes-water-security-crisis-could-lie-in-pakistan-says-head-of-geowash … via @TheNationalUAE

ABU DHABI // The answer to the UAE’s water shortage could lie in a pipeline from Pakistan, according to an Emirati businessman.

Abdulla Al Shehi, chief executive of Geowash, has written a paper suggesting an underground pipeline from Dasht, a river 500 kilometres away in Pakistan, to Fujairah.

“Technology is not a problem. We are at an advanced stage in engineering where it is possible politically as well. I don’t think there will be any problem. It is beneficial for both countries,” he said.

He said the Dasht River floods annually, which prompted the Pakistani government to empty the excess water through channels leading to the sea. That excess water, said Mr Al Shehi, could be put to use in the UAE.

The idea may sound far-fetched, but Mr Al Shehi is something of a specialist in saving water.

Since its inception, Mr Al Shehi has run Geowash, which washes a car using only four litres of water, compared to the 220 litres conventional cleaning takes.

Mr Al Shehi’s technique has allowed the company to save 500 million litres of water since 2008.

The pipeline, if built, would not be the longest – that honour belongs to Turkey’s 9,300km pipeline in the Harran Plain.

Nor will it be the most difficult feat of engineering. However, it would face other issues that Mr Al Shehi admitted.

“There will be an environmental impact. There might be a negative effect, which I think is minor,” he said.

“However, the benefits in saving water from desalination and the amount of biological life it will spur will offset the effects.”

However, for Professor Hussein Amery, who wrote a book titled Arab Water Security, the concept of creating a pipeline is fraught with political issues.

“I won’t discuss the economics of engineering challenges. I am suspicious of a project of this sort, because let me remind you that Qatar and Kuwait both have explored importing water from south-west Iran,” he said.

The problem with creating cross-country pipelines, he said, was that it created a security situation where a nation is dependent on a neighbour – described by Prof Amery as “hydro-dependency”.

“Gulf-Pakistani relations are different than Gulf-Irani relations. I am totally aware of that, but the engineering would be challenging and difficult considering the terrain,” he said.

He said that the political and technological hurdles can be overcome, but even then, the idea still would not be efficient.

“We use a very small amount of water in our homes in the Gulf states,” he said.

“Anywhere between 70 to 80 per cent goes to agriculture.

“It’s much cheaper and much more efficient to have the Pakistanis grow wheat and feed cows, then export the food [than import the water and grow food locally].”

Furthermore, he said, the UAE relies heavily on a very energy-intensive water source.

“The biggest threat is that it [the UAE] is hyper-arid and it doesn’t have any permanent water source, which created the reliance on desalination technology, as such it has become the destiny for the Emirates and other Gulf states,” he said.

Dr Ahmad Belhoul, chief executive of Masdar, said although it is investing heavily in researching renewable energy to provide energy to desalination plants, he welcomed new ideas, especially as the year of innovation comes to a close.

“I think that the very spirit of creating a company like Masdar is to encourage people to come up with ideas, some which are very practical and others more ambitious,” he said. “Either way, it warms my heart that Emiratis and expats alike are thinking proactively of solutions.”

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan has 154 large dams, according to International Commission On Large Dams (ICOLD).

http://www.icold-cigb.org/gb/world_register/general_synthesis.asp?IDA=206


Here are the top 10 dams in Pakistan:

Mangla
Construction Started: 1961

Completed: 1967

Located on: Jhelum River

Height: 147 meters or 482 ft.

Length: 3,140 meters or 10,302 ft.

Cost: $1.473 billion

Tarbela

Started: 1968

Completed: 1976

Located on: Indus River

Height: 143.26 meters or 470ft.

Length: 2,743.2 meters or 9,000 ft.

Cost: $1,497 million


Hub Dam

Started: 1963

Completed: 1981

Located on: Hub River

Height: 48 meters or 157 ft.

Length: 24,300 acres

Cost: Rs. 1,191.81 million


Mirani

Started: 2002

Completed: 2006

Located on: Dasht River

Height: 39 meters or 127 ft.

Length: 1,020 meters or 3,350 ft.

Cost: Rs. 5,267.90 million


Sabakzai

Started: 2004

Completed: 2007

Located on: Zohb River

Height: 34.7 m or 114 ft.

Length: 395 m or 1,296 ft.

Cost: Rs. 1.4 billion


Gomal Zam

Started: June 2007

Completed: June 2015

Located on: Gomal River

Height: 133 m or 437 ft.

Length: 231 m or 758 ft.

Cost: Rs. 18,056.060 million


Allai Khwar

Started: June 2003

Completed: March 2013

Located on: Allai Khwar River

Height: 51 m or 167 ft.

Length: 88 m or 289 ft.

Cost: Rs. 15,669.76 million



Duber Khwar

Started: June 2003

Completed: December 2013

Located on: Duber Khwar Dam

Height: 32 m or 133 ft.

Length: 202 m or 663 ft.

Cost: Rs. 22,208.1 million


Warsak

Started: 1949

Completed: 1960

Located on: Kabul River

Height: 76.2 m or 250 ft.

Length: 140.2 m or 460 ft.

Cost: Rs. 156 million


Khanpur

Started: 1968

Completed: 1983

Located on: Haro River

Height: 51 m or 167 ft.

Length: N/A

Cost: Rs. 1,352 million

http://www.thenewsteller.com/other/top-10-biggest-dams-in-pakistan-here-is-the-list/26529/

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan using #NASA satellite images to monitor, manage groundwater resources. http://phy.so/376039608 via @physorg_com

Pakistan's water managers are looking to NASA satellites to help them more effectively monitor and manage that precious resource, thanks to a partnership with engineers and hydrologists at the University of Washington, Seattle.
"Satellites up in space looking at how much water we have underground, in rivers or in the atmosphere are providing routine observations that can help policymakers and on-the-ground managers make informed decisions," said Faisal Hossain, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Washington. "From offering improved flood forecasting to indicating areas where groundwater resources are threatened, freely available satellite data can be an invaluable resource, particularly in developing countries."

After training at the University of Washington, the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources in January 2016 began using satellite data from NASA's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment, or GRACE, mission to create monthly updates on groundwater storage changes in the Indus River basin. This will allow them to see where groundwater supplies are being depleted and where they are being adequately recharged. Like all NASA satellite data, GRACE data are freely available for download from open NASA data centers (GRACE Tellus and the Physical Oceanography Distributed Active Archive Center) at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
GRACE's pair of identical satellites, launched in 2002, map tiny variations in Earth's gravity. Since water has mass, it affects these measurements. Therefore, GRACE data can help scientists monitor where the water is and how it changes over time. Using tools developed by the University of Washington and partners at the University of Houston; Ohio State University, Columbus; and NASA's Applied Sciences Program, Pakistan's water managers and researchers can analyze the NASA data to estimate changes in the total amount of available water, as well as changes in groundwater supplies.

"Using these satellites, we can indicate the areas that are most threatened by groundwater depletion. We can tell the farmers and water managers and help decision makers formulate better and more sustainable policies," said Naveed Iqbal, an assistant director and hydrogeologist at the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources. Iqbal spent six months at the University of Washington learning how to analyze and process the GRACE data to enhance decision-making at his agency.
GRACE project scientist Carmen Boening of JPL, which manages the GRACE project for NASA, said, "This is another great example of the unique ability of GRACE to see changes in water resources on a regional scale and provide easily accessible information where data are otherwise limited."
Compared to traditional groundwater monitoring efforts, the satellite information offers less spatial resolution but huge benefits in terms of cost and efficiency. For example, Pakistani water managers spent eight years building a groundwater monitoring network in the Indus River basin alone, and that network provides readings only twice a year.
"It's so fundamentally difficult to do this monitoring in a conventional way—sending people and sticking probes in the ground to measure water. It takes a long time and it's expensive," said Hossain, who runs the University of Washington's Sustainability, Satellites, Water and Environment Research Group. "In some places you can't even send people because the terrain is too remote or there is mortal danger due to insurgency and political strife."

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan has more #glaciers than almost anywhere on Earth. But they are at risk. #K2 #Himalaya #water http://wpo.st/sver1

With 7,253 known glaciers, including 543 in the Chitral Valley, there is more glacial ice in Pakistan than anywhere on Earth outside the polar regions, according to various studies. Those glaciers feed rivers that account for about 75 percent of the stored-water supply in the country of at least 180 million.

But as in many other parts of the world, researchers say, Pakistan’s glaciers are receding, especially those at lower elevations, including here in the Hindu Kush mountain range in northern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Among the causes cited by scientists: diminished snowfall, warmer temperatures, heavier summer rainstorms and rampant deforestation.

To many, the 1,000-square-mile Chitral Valley has become a case study of what could await the rest of the world if climate change accelerates, turning life-supporting mountains into new markers of human misery.

“It’s already happening here, and my thinking is, in the coming years it will just go from bad to worse,” said Bashir Ahmed Wani, a Pakistani forestry specialist with the Asian Development Bank.

Over the past six years, the Chitral Valley has also experienced three major floods that many Pakistani scientists attribute to climate change. The floodwaters killed more than 50 people and stranded hundreds of thousands while undercutting a once-vibrant tourist industry still struggling to rebound after Sept. 11, 2001.

Despite such calamities, the valley has come to symbolize the way a poorly educated populace can compound the effects of climate change, creating a cycle of hardship that is difficult to break as the needs of humans compete with the needs of nature. Its glaciers offer a stark example.

As the valley’s population has soared — from 106,000 in 1950 to 600,000 today — most residents get just two to four hours of electricity a day, they say. Without reliable refrigeration, they turn to vendors hawking chunks of the valley’s shrinking snowpack.

Every day, residents say, scores of these entrepreneurs drive five to seven hours to the mountain peaks, where they hack into the glaciers — or scoop up the pre-glacial snow — and load the haul into their jeeps and trucks. Back in the valley, they shovel the snow and ice into shopping bags and sell it for 50 cents a bag.

“There are no fans, no refrigerators working, so I will store this for cooler water and then use it for drinking,” said Ubaid Ureh, 46, as he held two dripping bags. “The doctors say we shouldn’t drink it, but we have no choice.”


Hameed Ahmed Mir, a local biodiversity expert who has worked for the United Nations, said the harvesting of the Chitral Valley’s glaciers saps in one day what otherwise could be several months’ worth of stable water supply.

One cubic yard of ice weighs about a ton — enough to supply four to seven families with drinking water for several days — and one vehicle can carry three to four tons of snow or ice, he said: “Then multiply that by 200 vehicles per day.”

Khalil Ahmed, a former project manager for the U.N.-supported Glacial Lake Outburst Floods Project, said Pakistani law does not make it clear whether the government or the public owns the country’s vast glacial reservoirs.

“We are trying to initiate a dialogue with the local people, but these are poor people,” he said, noting that glaciers in the neighboring territory of Gilgit-Baltistan are also being sold off.