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Efficient use of limited supply of water

The new technology also to help in controlling waterlogging

By SHABBIR H. KAZMI
 June 04 - 10, 2001

Pakistan faces many critical problems and some of them are directly related to shortage of irrigation water. The problem has further aggravated due a drought-like situation. Added to this has been waterlogging and salinity due to seepage of water from canals etc. which has rendered millions of acres of land un-cultivable. Engro Asahi Polymer and Chemicals has developed a possible solution based on locally produced material. This can help in controlling seepage as well as ensure additional supply, otherwise lost due to seepage.

According to some experts the water losses in the Indus river are constantly increasing. The overall losses in the Indus are calculated at around 30 per cent higher as compared to the last year. An estimated loss of Rs 146 billion has been occurred to Sindh's economy which includes Rs 133 billion alone due to drought, water shortage and sea intrusion.

The Governor of Sindh, Mohammedmian Soomro inaugurated the PVC Geomembrane watercourse lining demonstration site in District Thatta recently. The demonstration site has been developed by Engro Asahi in collaboration with On-Farm Water Management, Government of Sindh, to demonstrate seepage control using PVC Geomembrane lining. This demonstration was in pursuance of the decision of the Sindh Economic Recovery Task Force subcommittee dealing with irrigation water losses.

While addressing a diversified audience, the Governor said that water conservation was one of the biggest challenges of the day and that the Provincial Government was dealing with it on priority basis. The Governor was pleased with the public-private sector partnership in the promotion of modern technology in the agricultural sector and emphasized the need for developing a comprehensive strategy to make the irrigation system more efficient.

In various presentations made earlier, it was highlighted that 50 million acre feet of water is lost annually in Pakistan due to seepage in canals and water courses. In Sindh alone, 15 million acre feet is lost due to salinity. This water, if saved can help in making millions of acres of waterlogged land cultivable. The increased cultivation and agricultural production will help in reducing the trade deficit and improve the macroeconomic performance of the country.

The demonstration site, a 820 meter long watercourse, was lined with PVC Geomembrane. According to data collected and verified by the On-Farm Water Management, pre-lining water losses were 44 per cent of total water discharged. However, after applying the PVC Geomembrane lining water losses were reduced successfully to less than three per cent including evaporation losses.

The seepage control provided by Geomembrane lining is significantly superior to other available alternatives. In terms of cost, PVC Geomembrane is cheaper than the traditional method of brick lining with concrete. Moreover, the useful life of PVC Geomembrane lining is around 40 years which is significantly greater than traditional lining methods. PVC Geomembrane is easy to install and readily available since it is based on indigenous materials processed by the domestic PVC calendering facilities.

This project has been undertaken with the help of Japan. Hasan Ali Chanhio was officially invited by the Japanese government and visited several concerned organizations and departments to get conversant with the methods and style of management of Japan's agriculture sector.

In his address H. E. Kazumi Dekiba, Consul General of Japan, appreciated the efforts of Sindh Economic Recovery Task Force, headed by Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Minister of Finance, Government of Sindh. He also suggested, "In connection to Geomembrane lining in canal network, I personally feel that there is a need to establish a kind of community base association also, or a kind of platform, where all the farming land-owners and farmers join hand in hand to take good care of this facility and maintain it in an efficient way. I also have a kind of apprehension that after spreading the lining some kind of disputes may arise among these private land owners. Hence, this association or community based organization could settle those disputes peacefully.