Given the situation of water shortage and wastage in Pakistan, the Council of Common Interests (CCI) is expected approve the National Water Policy which is aimed at ensuring effective use of water by farmers, households and industries.
The proposed policy is one of the most important agenda items on the list of the CCI. The policy acknowledges for the first time that water is a finite resource and Pakistan has to learn to at least recover the costs of the irrigation system from water charges.
The Indus Water Treaty has done incredibly well in resolving water disputes between India and Pakistan but the framework is now coming under increased pressure. One area of concern is that the treaty does not cover the sharing and management of underground aquifers. Both countries need to work together to better manage their common underground water resources. Pakistan is aiming to do just that with its new National Water Policy.
The policy also states that the impact of climate change is already evident in Pakistan and with the rising temperatures, agricultural productivity is being reduced thanks to the enhanced heat and water-stress condition. In such a scenario, the policy calls for making water delivery services economically and financially sustainable and puts emphasis on the social and economic value of water.
Achieving full financial self-sufficiency in water is going to be a challenging task since the power of the vested interests that stands in the way is considerable. However, once the National Water Policy gets the green light we may be one step close to achieving self sufficiency.
The Council of Common Interests is scheduled to meet on 31st July and will most likely approve the National Water Policy.