Pakistan faces severe water scarcity and is at the verge of running out dry by 2025 owing to a dearth of water reservoirs and decline in the storage capacity of existing dams. It is clearly visible that the government did not attach significance to any matter pertaining to water, whether it be establishing new dams, providing pure drinking water to the public, stopping India from building dams on Pakistan’s share of water in IOK or making an effort to increase the storage capacity of existing reservoirs. It is also evident that both the present and previous governments did not have any clear policy despite the warnings given by the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR), which claimed the country touched the “water stress line” in 1990 before crossing the ‘water scarcity line’ in 2005. The per capita availability of water, which was above 5,200 cubic meters at the time of independence, has now dropped below the minimum threshold of 1,000 cubic meters per head, officially making us a water-scarce country. According to experts, the main causes of the water crisis are population growth, climate change and in particular poor management of water. Urbanisation and the absence of a national water policy are also included in this list. Over drawing of ground water by users because of shortage of surface water has salinised the water. A government report recently revealed that Lahore, Lodhran, Vehari, Khanewal and Multan have lost 90 percent of their underground water. According to the PCRWR, the remaining 10 percent of underground water of these areas has a disproportionately higher amount of arsenic. It is a grim reality that political parties in Pakistan have been ignoring the grave water conundrum for decades, for their own political and regional benefits It is a grim reality that political parties in Pakistan have been ignoring the grave water conundrum for decades for their own political and regional benefits whereas India swiftly made dams on Pakistan’s share of water in Indian Occupied Kashmir but still, we are in a state of ignorant slumber. With the ongoing hue and cry, the government recently took some measures to counter the ongoing crisis. On April 17th, authorities finally gave a go ahead for the construction of the Diamer-Bhasha dam, as the cost of an estimated Rs. 474 billion. The move is being hailed given that there are no major water reservoir in Pakistan since Tarbela and Mangla dams were built in the 1960s. Although Pakistan has to strive to accumulate money from international organisations amid Indian antagonism and hostility to the project. For the next financial year, an allocation of Rs18 billion has been projected for the construction of the aforesaid dam. For the water sector, the government has proposed an allocation of Rs. 59 billion, which although is far lower than the Rs. 100 billion being proposed in the National Water Policy, can be considered acceptable. The former minister for Water Resources Syed Javed Ali Shah told the National Assembly that 26 projects are under construction to manage river flows. Diamer-Bhasha dam would be completed by 2025-26. He said that the two projects were expected to be finished during the current fiscal year; 13 would be completed in the next fiscal year; six by 2020; and the remaining would be done after 2020. Let us draw a comparison of the water storage capacity of India with Pakistan; there is a staggering disparity. Around 750 million acre-feet (MAF) water is available to India yearly of which 287 MAF is stored in dams. Its storage capacity is 30 percent, which they want to increase up to 50 percent. Whereas, Pakistan with 140MAF available water has a storage capacity of seven percent. Plus, the country has lost 111 bn cusecs of water in past three floods. A 2017 report by Indus River System Authority revealed gross maladministration saying that “Pakistan dumps water worth approximately $21 billion into the sea each year due to lack of water conservation system.” It is very astounding that a country which lacks economic stability discards $21bn each year. Thus, in order to cope with the issue of water shortage, the government has to take drastic measures. Both long-term and short-term plans should be of identical importance. To build new water storage reservoirs tops the list, as according to experts, Pakistan wastes 35MAF water each year, because of the absence of a real mechanism to store water. Effective water policy and preparation of water budget are also indispensable. But not only do we need planning and preparation, what we are in dire need of is implementation. Rehabilitation of the century old irrigation system and wastewater treatment plants are required due to water dearth in the country. A UN-backed study says that only about 32 percent of the wastewater generated in Asia is treated whereas 71 percent wastewater generated in Europe undergoes treatment. So, the need of the hour is to preserve water for future generations and it is imperative to build new dams and unless provincial disputes are not resolved over large dams, the government should start building small dams which are both cheaper and reliable and serves the purpose of water storage albeit for a short time. The writer is an old Ravian and currently studying law and policy. Can be reached at email@example.com Published in Daily Times, June 11th 2018.