The President and the Environment, Oct 22

by Khurshid Anwer

The president was waxing forth today about how he had launched tree planting campaigns as the minister for environment. I doubt if he knows even the meaning of the word ‘environment’.

Environment is not only about planting trees, it is also about clean air for breathing and clean water for drinking. In the country of which he is president neither is available.

Total stress on thermal power (also Solar & Wind) at the exclusion of hydel power is contributing to polluted air, and to global warming, and to melting of our glaciers.

Shortage of water is contributing to pollution of water, because of the increasing amounts of factory effluents being dumped into lesser quantities of water in the canals.

The Nation of Sep 30 carries a report on a Study, ‘River-crisis worsens threat of water scarcity’, published in the ‘Journal Nature’ by Peter Macintyre, professor of Zoology at the university of Wisconsin.


Looking into the future,‘climate change’ is among the basket of ‘escalating trends’ that will add pressure on the rivers.

In rich countries, heavy investment in dams and reservoirs has benefited 850 million people, reducing their exposure to extreme water scarcity by 95 percent.

In upper middle-income countries investment has benefited 140 million people, reducing their risk of extreme water scarcity by 23 percent.

In developing countries, minimal investment in infrastructure* has meant 3.4 billion (340 crore) people find themselves in the highest category of threat of water scarcity – Unquote.

* Dams, reservoirs and canals.

Opponents of mega dams blame the dams for the environmental damage at the Indus delta. That would be true if the dams had reduced flow in the rivers. Mangla dam made up for the waters lost to India. Punjab would not today be bearing 80% of the agriculture load for the whole country without Mangla dam. Tarbela dam increased canal supplies by 25%, over 6 million acre feet increase for Sindh alone. Growth of agriculture in Sindh would not have been possible without Tarbela dam. Kalbagh dam will add a further 2.2 maf to the supplies for Sindh.

The flow to the Indus delta actually decreased after Kotri barrage was built and three big canals taken out from it. Three big canals at Guddu barrage and seven big canals at Sukkur barrage were already depleting the Indus river. Remember that it is at the barrages that rivers are depleted and not at the dams, which actually add to the supply side.

Khurshid Anwer

I would appreciate comments on, if to satisfy the nay sayers, Mangla and Tarbela dams were to stop storing water and Jhelum and Indus were to revert to the run-of-the-river position, what would this do to the agriculture of Pakistan and to the Indus delta?


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