A Session on Water Crisis of Balochistan at Quetta Literary Festival
Date: Tuesday 28 June 2022
During the two-day Quetta Literary Festival (QLF) held at BUITEMS, a session on the water crisis of Balochistan was held in which the panelists from Balochistan Think Tank Network (BTTN) spoke about the issue, and the challenges related to it. The session was moderated by Ms. Maria Malik while Mr. Aadersh Hamza Malghani, Mr. Rafi Khan and Mr. Abdul Rehman participated as the speakers. Ms. Malik opened the session by highlighting the significance of water for the human life stating that it is impossible for a human being to survive without water after 3/4 days. She further added that “Pakistan is now listed at the 14th number in the list of 17 most water stressed countries. More than 80 percent of Pakistanis face some kind of water scarcity on daily basis whereas almost 2/3 of our water sources are being wasted because of poor management and lack of infrastructure.” During the session, various aspects of this pressing issue were highlighted by the speakers that aimed to sensitize the young generation about the looming threat of water scarcity in Pakistan and particularly in Balochistan.
Brig Agha Ahmad Gul (R) graced the session as the Chief Guest, which was attended by the audience in great numbers including the members from civil society, students and faculty of different universities. Dr. Zafar Khan, the Executive Director BTTN and BTTN’s faculty of research also attended the event.
Speakers highlighted the unavailability of major sources of surface water (such as rivers), climatic changes, ever increasing population and geographic constraints as few of the main reasons of water scarcity in Balochistan. Very little rainfall, no rivers and unhygienic groundwater make it worse for the people of the province to carry out their routine matters. BTTN speakers also stressed on adopting a more proactive approach to resolve the water crisis in Balochistan.
Mr. Aadersh Hamza Malghani, Associate Director at BTTN said that the conservation of water has become a necessity to secure the future generation of this country. He said that Gwadar is facing economic water scarcity at the moment, where lack of infrastructure and poor management are the primary reasons of water crisis. He argued that, “desalination is being carried out by many coastal cities around the world, but Gwadar has not tapped that resource to its full potential because of the poor infrastructure and/or management.” He also emphasized on conducting awareness programs among the masses to highlight the importance of water and to create awareness about the use of recycled water which is a sustainable water resource.
Mr. Rafi Khan, Research Officer at BTTN talked about the water crisis in Quetta city. He said that, “85 % of the 12.3 million population of Balochistan do not have access to fresh and clean drinking water. He further said that, “water demand of Quetta is 61million gallon per day (mgd) whereas only 24.5mgd is being provided.” Moreover, population growth, influx of Afghan refugees and urbanization has exacerbated the demand further. Amongst other things, he suggested lifting water coming from the Indus River via the tail of Kacchi Canal is one of the primary solutions to meet the water demand of the city. He also stressed that, “the curriculum at every level should incorporate the significance of water conservation.”
Mr. Abdul Rehman, Research Officer at BTTN highlighted the issue of water scarcity in the Upland Balochistan that includes Pishin Lora basin, Nari basin and Zhob basin. Mr. Rehman said that, “the groundwater is depleting at an alarming rate in the Upland Balochistan. The traditional sources of water like Karez and springs have dried up due to less rainfall and an increased number of tube wells in the region.” Mr. Rehman recommended that, “both the people and government need to take the issue of water scarcity seriously and commit towards the preservation of every drop of water in Balochistan.” He also recommended that, “the traditional sources of water such as Karezes and springs should be restored.”
The session was followed by a question-and-answer session and ended with the distribution of souvenirs among the panelists.