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HEC to propose setting up of a task force for Balochistan’s water crisis


* The meeting aimed at contemplating on the prevailing scenario, challenges and future opportunities regarding ground water recharge

Staff Report

SEPTEMBER 16, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The Higher Education Commission (HEC) will propose setting up a Task Force to deal with the challenge of water scarcity in Balochistan.

The decision will be finalised after discussion with Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan.

This was stated by HEC Chairman Dr Tariq Banuri while chairing a meeting on academia’s role in addressing water crisis in Balochistan at the Commission Secretariat on Friday.

The meeting aimed at contemplating on the prevailing scenario, challenges and future opportunities regarding ground water recharge, water reservoirs, water usage efficiency, clean drinking water and water resource management.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Tariq Banuri expressed deep concern over the prevailing water crisis in Balochistan and assured of support from the academia. He said Balochistan CM Kamal Khan places high priority on addressing the issue.

He added that the HEC and universities need to come forward to present a joint plan of action for solution to the issue.

It was decided in the meeting that the HEC will propose to the province to set up a Task Force, assisted by a technical committee, to help resolve the issue.

“The Task Force will be a joint body and will help formulate water policy and execute it, while the technical committee will undertake research, collect data, assess and determine research gap and identify areas that need attention,” Tariq Banuri explained.

The meeting participants agreed that the Task Force will comprise vice chancellors and representatives of centres of excellence and advanced studies in water. They suggested that the Task Force must develop terms of reference based on modalities and feasibility of the plan, while the technical committee must undertake research and identify the areas that require attention. They also emphasised the need for capacity building of organisations and centres working on water resource management. They expressed concerns that there are over 42,000 tube wells in Balochistan and only 450 of them are registered. This is one of the major causes of water depletion and causes electricity burden as well, they underlined. They stressed the need for creating awareness among people about hazards of wasting water.

During the course of the meeting, representatives of various universities’ Centres of Excellence in Water also highlighted their efforts about water management. They pointed out that the surface water in Balochistan has reached an end, while ground water is rapidly depleting.

“Balochistan largely depends upon ground water and its depletion is highly alarming,” they observed. They also discussed the outcomes of delay-in-action for dams concept as well as the prospects of leakage and other measures including irrigation and capacity building of centres on water. Issues pertaining to draughts, disaster management, flash floods, agricultural water management, farming methods, climate change assessment, meteorology, ground water modelling and urbanisation were also brought under consideration.

“I will discuss the points raised in the meeting with the chief minister so that we may proceed,” he concluded.

The meeting was attended by HEC Executive Director Dr Arshad Ali and HEC Research & Development Adviser Dr Muhammad Latif in person along with Balochistan University of Information Technology, Engineering & Management Sciences VC Ahmed Farooq Bazai, NED University of Engineering & Technology VC Dr Sarosh Hashmat Lodhi, University of Balochistan VC Dr Javed Iqbal, University of Engineering & Technology VC Dr Fazal Ahmad Khalid, Lasbela University of Agriculture, Water & Marine Sources VC Dr Dost Muhammad Baloch, Mehran University of Engineering & Technology VC Dr Muhammad Aslam Uqaili, Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources Director General Dr Muhammad Ashraf and other water resource experts marked their presence through HEC video conferencing facility.

Published in Daily Times, September 16th 2018.

https://dailytimes.com.pk/298748/hec-to-propose-setting-up-of-a-task-force-for-balochistans-water-crisis/

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