The scarcity of water is one of the most pressing issues of Pakistan at this time; however, in the last couple of months, we have witnessed nothing but the gross mismanagement of the situation. Pakistan is one of the countries which are going to be adversely affected by climate change in the upcoming years unless we pace up our understanding of this global phenomenon and take corrective measures. However, the only initiative that we have seen recently is an uninformed, but a well-meaning one, by the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar, who has set a donation fund for the constructions of damns
The problem lies in the fact that while the initiative was launched due to valid concerns, there are aspects of governance which it neglects. It is difficult to sustain such campaigns and actually ensure that the amount required for dams can be collected via donations. Such policies need to be planned by the government and cannot be based on public funding without due evidence that such ventures actually produce a result. The plethora of executive actions needed to pull off a mega-project such as this cannot by undertaken by the court, neither can it be understood by it. It needs to be left to dedicated professionals.
In this regard, the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) of Pakistan in a recent session at the Supreme Court has devised a more feasible and practical solution to address the scarcity of water in the country. The plan now is to seek up to $2billion from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and Swiss banks to address the problem and build the Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand Dams in Pakistan.
This is a more practical solution than crowdfunding but at the same time, the Committee of the Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand Dams (ICBDMD) appointed by the Supreme Court of Pakistan should also fully consider other options of solving our water problems, which might be easier and cheaper. This includes investing in smaller reservoirs and barrages – a lesson which we can very well learn from our neighbor. Climate change is going to affect us and in order to wisely counter it, our policies need to be informed and right on point, otherwise, we will be left dependent for a necessity as basic as water.
Such hefty decisions need to be made by an empowered government after extensive deliberation and calculation, not by an ad hoc committee cobbled together at a moment’s notice.