Trade: (ICCI asks Govt to finalize a comprehensive National Water Policy)

ISLAMABAD: Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) has called upon the government to finalize a comprehensive and effective National Water Policy in consultation with all stakeholders to cope with the looming water scarcity issue because if not tackled with proactive measures, rising water crisis would jeopardize the economic future of the nation and bring disastrous consequences for the whole country.

Atif Ikram Sheikh, ICCI President, said in a statement on Tuesday that an Asian Development Bank report has already described Pakistan as one of the most “water-stressed” countries in the world which should be a cause of concern for the policymakers.

He said the water availability in Pakistan has now come down to 1100 cubic meters per person from 5600 cubic meters in 1947 and if no planning was done to conserve sufficient water, its availability would further decline to less than 900 cubic meters per person by 2050.

He said the rising water shortage would have serious implications to the economic development of the country as it would badly affect the agricultural productivity which contributed about 21 percent to the total GDP growth.

He said dwindling water availability would also jeopardize food and energy security of the country and threaten the viability of industrial sector as well. He urged that government should work on war footing basis to overcome this serious issue because further negligence on this account would constrain economic growth, cause closure of many industries and give rise to joblessness.

Atif Ikram Sheikh said our irrigation system consumed about 97 percent of country’s water resources and there was a dire need to make it efficient in order to avoid unnecessary wastage of water. He said government should construct a network of water reservoirs as well as large number of small and medium size dams to ensure sufficient storage of water as the global warming and climate change phenomenon pose serious threats to the country.

He stressed upon the government to develop a comprehensive institutional mechanism for effective planning and management of scarce water resources as availability of sufficient water was vital for the economic development, food security and survival of the nation.