Experts have warned that Pakistan’s glaciers could totally melt by 2035 if robust measures are not taken to mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change.
These views resonated in a special discussion program held at News and Current Affairs Channel of Radio Pakistan in Islamabad on Wednesday.
Speaking in program, Mahr Sahibzad Khan, Director General Pakistan Metrological Department, said Pakistan falls in list of ten countries that are most vulnerable to climate change.
He said the country needs to take urgent steps for reducing the emissions of carbon dioxide in the environment that will also include lifestyle changes. He said the horizontal expansion of our cities is reducing the green areas and the building materials are also contributing to heat in the environment.
Mahr Sahibzad Khan said weather systems as well as broader climate is trans-boundary phenomenon and it requires joint efforts as well as international collaboration to help the countries in reducing the greenhouse gas emissions.
Taking part in the discussion, Ahmed Kamal, Chairman Federal Flood Commission said at present, projects of 38 million acres feet of water are in the pipeline whose completion will take time. He said as part of Indus Water Treaty, both Pakistan and India are obligated to share information of water to each other. Till 1999, it was implemented in true spirit but after 2017, India stopped sharing data on flow of water from its side. He said during the recent talks between representatives of both countries, Indian side again gave no assurance in this regard.
Ahmed Kamal said if agreement is not reached between the two countries on sharing of water information, Pakistan should consult the global institution of Sendai Framework of Disaster Risk Reduction which discusses upper and lower riparian flows and issues and information sharing to save lives and properties. He said other regional countries could also be involved in resolving this issue for mutual benefit of both neighbors.
Chairman Federal Flood Commission said a lot of work has been done on development of small and medium dams globally in the last decade. He said in Balochistan, around two hundred small and medium dams are being constructed to overcome the shortage of water in the province. He said our national water policy says that 10 million acre feet of water should be in our water reservoirs by 2030. In the meantime, we need to implement water conservation policies including rain water harvesting. He said ground water exploitation has resulted in depletion of ground water resources, especially in urban areas. Ahmed Kamal said in Islamabad, Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources is working with CDA to collect water at foothills of Margalla Hills to augment ground water reservoirs and increase the underground water table. Green technologies like bioremediation can be used in Nullah Lai and other sewerage rivers to make the water usable for a number of applications.
He appreciated various rain harvesting projects being undertaken by Punjab and Sindh provincial governments in a number of cities. He said during Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s recent visit to Turkey, the idea of ‘One thousand dams, One thousand days’ was discussed with Turkish authorities to increase the capacity of water storage in Pakistan.
Speaking in the program, Idrees Mahsud, Spokesperson National Disaster Management Authority said as Pakistan lies in an active seismic zone it is very important to implement the safe building standards that have been prepared in coordination with Pakistan Engineering Council. In addition, we need to raise awareness among the public about the risks of climate change and disaster. He said this awareness played a key role in Shishper Glacier issue when a large number of people were evacuated through early warnings and effective measures. He said NDMA is committed to protect lives and properties of people.
Idrees Mahsud said NDMA has now active urban search and rescue teams in place across the country. He said team in Lahore is already internationally certified and a second team is also being imparted international training to increase our rescue capabilities. He said, in addition, community based disaster management approaches are being used to inform people of taking measures to prevent and save lives during disasters. He said National Institute4 of Disaster Management has trained more than 8,000 people so far.