Lahore has been accommodating its inhabitants since centuries. Currently over 11 million people live and feed themselves in Lahore. With the increase in population, and the constant expansion of the city, the daily needs of Lahoris have increased. The Government of Punjab has tried to meet the increasing demand of livelihood by setting up industries, making infrastructural developments and what not, however, the most important aspect of life is still being ignored by the authorities — underground water. Underground water is consumed not only by every household but also in many industries located in and adjacent to Lahore. In 2017, the World Wide Fund for Nature-Pakistan (WWF-Pakistan) in collaboration with the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) and the Irrigation Research Institute (IRI), conducted its fifth session under a project titled International Labour and Environmental Standards (ILES) implementation in Pakistan’s Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). The reports shared in the fifth session, showed that the groundwater level is declining in Lahore with a depletion rate of approximately 2.5 to 3.0 feet per year. The report further revealed that the water table depth in the central part of the city has fallen below 130 feet (40 metres) approximately, and is projected to drop below 230 feet (70 metres) in most areas by the end of year 2025. It was stressed in the session that if the present trend continues the situation will become even worse by 2040. It is already August 2018, and we have seen no meaningful action being taken by any of the concerned authorities. G roundwater level is declining in Lahore with a depletion rate of approximately 2.5 to 3.0 feet per year. The report further revealed that the water table depth in the central part of the city has fallen below 130 feet (40 metres) approximately, and is projected to drop below 230 feet (70 metres) in most areas by the end of year 2025 Water is life, we all know that, but we are ignorant about how to preserve and sustain it. Unfortunately there is no check and balance on the consumption of water. Residents of Lahore are charged for the electricity they use to extract underground water but there is no check for quantity. Water is a natural resource and everyone has a fundamental right to the access of it. In order to maintain the water table, and to sustain it for future generations we need to regulate this fundamental right. We do not know how many industries in Lahore are extracting water on a daily basis, since there is no mechanism to measure and charge the extraction of water. Regular household water consumption cannot be compared with a factory’s usage. A few authorities are involved in working on sustaining groundwater including the Lahore Development Authority, the Water and Sanitation Agency, the Metropolitan Corporation Lahore and the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources. Despite having systematic bodies, we do not have any solid plan to conserve groundwater for future generations. Seeing the indifference of the relevant authorities, a writ petition was filed in the Lahore High Court by advocate Abuzar Salman Khan Niazi, Partner at Raja Mohammad Akram & Co. The writ petition was titled ‘Haroon Farooq versus the Government of Punjab’. It shed light upon the depleting trends in Lahore’s underground water level. And went on to beseech the Lahore High Court to direct relevant authorities to carry evaluations and assessments regarding the condition of the aquifer, quality and availability of sub-soil water in Lahore. Mr Niazi has demanded that authorities ensure the efficient use of groundwater and take all necessary steps for proper management, conservation and preservation. He has also requested the Court to demand authorities to record the latest research and reports they have conducted, drafted, formulated on the said issue. The decline in underground water levels should be a cause for concern, however, so far no step has been taken to address the crises. By virtue of the said petition, the issue has now been put up before the environment sensitive judiciary of Pakistan. It is a good omen that the case is being heard by Justice Shahid Karim, a judge well known for rendering bold innovative verdicts. Let us all hope that Lahoris do not suffer shortage of clean water and meaningful steps are taken by the concerned authorities in time. The author holds a BA-LL.B Hons from (LUMS) and is currently an Associate at Raja Mohammad Akram & Co. She can be reached at [email protected] Published in Daily Times, September 2nd 2018.