Tuesday, May 21

Saving every drop of rain water | select better option | By Chaudhry Muhammad Latif

Chaudhry Muhammad Latif

TREE plantation is an annual ceremonial exercise launched by the forest department of the government.

The cooperation in this respect is sought from the resourceful and disciplined institution of Army, NGOs, students and scouts.

The present government went beyond and undertook tsunami of 10 billion trees.The fact remains that no tree can survive and thrive without timely water supply.

In Muzaffarabad we achieved some healthy results of reforestation when forest enclosures were named after the Prime Minister, Forest Minister, Education Minister, Commander 5 Brigade and Muzaffarabad Development Authority.

The said enclosures are visible and tangible around Muzaffarabad city obviously adding beauty to the city.

Some fifty years back the water supply infrastructure was simple but stable.There were several wells and small lakes in every village and in urban areas as well.

These thousands of water reservoirs maintained ground water levels.In Pakistan vast tracts of land suffered from water logging and salinity.

The experts advised installation of tube wells to reclaim the land occupied by the calamity so as to make the land useful for agricultural purposes.

The scheme produced desirable results especially in districts of Sheikhupura, Faisalabad and Jhang etc.

As a consequence the installation of tube wells were resorted to a large scale for dual purpose of irrigation and consumption purposes of human beings.

The process extended to AJK also in districts of Mirpur and Bhimber in barrani areas being an efficient remedy.

Simultaneously tap-water supply also was introduced.So these two new water sucking devices created negative impact on ground water levels.

The proper course was to supplemented the ground water level by making small lakes throughout the country to save every drop of rain water which in return could be multipurpose like tree-plantation.

Water level, control of floods, meeting water needs for vegetables, vegetation and fish farming.

The rural areas have tremendous potential where local school teachers could be assigned the extra curricular activity to supervise the small local lakes.

Thus vast water course land vacated by lake-building could be equally used for green belts.

Each “nallah” and “kassy” in villages should immediately be blocked and water reservoirs built for healthy future of our generations.

The efforts of all departments dealing with water supply, irrigation, check dams, small dams and larger dams should join hands including Ministry of Environment and Climate Change.

The Special Advisor to Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam could be assigned with the task of coordinated efforts for this national cause.

The tube-wells are, at present, causing havoc. Ground water levels are dropping down.

In Baluchistan, alone one tube-well can dry dozens of karezs running throughout the province, where locals once knew the areas “Karez” channels like the back of their hand.

Now it is forgotten story.There were 340 karezs which have been rendered useless due to excessive installation of tube-wells.

The too much adoption of tube wells has generated perilous effects on the environment and depletion of ground water.

The water level has gone down in Baluchistan to 1200 feet which is certainly alarming. It is not the lack of rainfall that has exhausted ground water resources rather it seems uncoordinated efforts and unscrupulous installation of tube-wells.

In other parts of Pakistan including AJK the water resources demand immediate attention. The solution does not lie only in bigger dams which involve colossal amount of funds and procedures rather the micro level effort could usher in much better results with public participation in building small lakes.

At the same time instead of making heavy expenditure the better option would lie to build small lakes at micro level running to very large numbers with grant of reasonable incentives to the rural population.

The tree plantation would be a by-product of small lakes.The latest studies conducted by the United Nations experts reveal that climate threat to Pakistan is acute with 40 percent of population being food insecure, 80 percent citizens in urban areas lacking access to clean drinking water.

Pakistani cities rank highest on the air pollution score.So adaptation of new water resources is the need of the hour.

In our twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi the ground water level has dangerously gone down due to many housing schemes with excessive demand of installing tube wells.

Therefore each drop of rain water has got to be saved.It would be advisable to impose a condition of building water reservoirs in their catchment areas of each housing scheme to cater for their water demands.

—The writer is former Additional Chief Secretary of AJK and advocate Supreme Court of AJK.

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