RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT IN BALOCHISTAN WATER SECTOR
Dec 17 - 30, 2007
Hydro-geological studies reveal that the hills and mountain range in Balochistan possesses tremendous aquifers potential. These additional water resources can be tapped through drilling and hard rock testing. These strategies have been successful at the prospective sites under the slopes of Murdar Ghar range along with eastern and northwestern margins of Quetta valley. Geological Survey of Pakistan (GSP) made a joint venture with Balochistan government and Pakistan's army's 12 Corps engineers in the year 2000 and drilled 35 sites under the slopes of Koh-e-Murdar. 22 test-bores were successful yielding water up to a million gallon per day. These efforts of GSP in collaboration with other governmental institutions led to the availability of more than 60% additional water for Quetta city. The GSP plans to carry out detailed exploration in Chiltan, Taktu and Zarghoon ranges, besides Sarakhula-Kach fault zone and Spin Karez, Hanna areas.
Five years back, the prolonged spell of drought in Balochistan rang a wake up call for establishing an efficient water storage and management system across the province, particularly in Quetta. The only source of water for the residents of Quetta is the ground water reservoirs. Precipitation is the only source of recharge to the aquifer. The problem of water scarcity in the provincial capital is becoming acute which enhances the need for a better water storage system. Truly speaking, the obsolete and worn out water supply system in the provincial capital do not need improvement but a total replacement by a new and durable system. Similarly, the sewerage and sanitation system in Quetta poses health risks and acts as a catalyst in increasing environmental pollution. It is estimated that water table in Quetta valley is declining at an average rate of 4-5 feet per year.
A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Government of Pakistan and Asian Development Bank in 1998 to conduct a feasibility study for exploration of new water reservoirs in and around Quetta valley .The task of exploration was assigned to a German consultancy firm while geophysical study was carried out by GSP. Integrated geophysical survey comprising of Electro-magnetic profiling and deep electrical resistivity soundings in the Quetta valley and surroundings were conducted for the assessment of hard rock aquifers. GSP's success in finding large quantities of good quality, ground water in hard rock aquifers in and around Quetta valley averted the impending water crisis in Quetta. The German firm in its final report to the government identified huge underground water deposits in hard rocks in the foot of Koh-e-Murdar and suggested drilling of test bore.
On a special directive from President Musharraf, drilling of test bores immediately started in hard rocks in year 2000. A Water Management Committee (WMC) under the chairmanship of Governor Balochistan was also constituted to take prompt decisions regarding water supply to Quetta city and cantonment. The WMC directed Irrigation and Power department to undertake over 90 test bores before embarking upon the main project involving expenditure of billion of rupees in February 2000 following a detailed discussion over the German firm's report. Irrigation department has so far carried out 90 test bores in the suggested sites out of which 58 proved successful.
A major water supply program is currently being undertaken by Balochistan Water and Sanitation Authority (B-WASA) which, besides other things, also include collaboration between B-WASA, GSP and Balochistan Irrigation Department for exploration of other interesting geological structures around Quetta valley. Balochistan government is currently spending Rs7.965 billion on the Quetta water supply and environmental improvement project (QWSEIP), which is aimed at overcoming the problem of water shortage in Quetta. Rs1.847 billion had been spent on the project until January 2007 while the federal government had allocated Rs1.2 billion under its PSDP for the financial year 2006-07. Under the project, 748-km-long pipeline would be replaced in and around Quetta city. The project will be completed by June 2008.
The Rs. 8 billion QWSEIP was initiated in early 2000 and the field work was completed by late 2003. The project includes the following components:
• Water supply: Rs.3285 million
• Enhancement of recharge measures: Rs. 300 million
• Sewerage project: Rs.2331 million
• Drainage project Rs. 205 million
• Construction of dams: Rs.1743.55 million
• Miscellaneous: Rs. 100 million
According to the project proposal, 254km long new water supply line would be laid besides replacing a 30km long old water supply line by new one. Water distribution network will also be extended by 24 kilometer. Another 511 km long pipeline in the streets and lanes of the city would also be laid for the sewerage purposes. Vehicle and necessary equipment at a cost of Rs 30 million would be purchased for maintenance of sewerage system. 15 tube wells would be energized to overcome water shortage. The construction of four water recycling plants around the city has also been proposed so that the recycled water could be utilized for agriculture purposes.
Following are the key objectives of the project:
• Increase availability of water up to 26 MGD.
• Rehabilitation the distribution network.
• Establish effective monitoring and metering of the system.
• Increase reservoir capacity by 8 MGD and provide equitable distribution.
• Expansion of distribution network to new areas.
• Increase WASA revenue.
• Rehabilitation existing sewerage network.
• Construction of Dams at Mangi and Halak.
• Increase sewerage system coverage from 12.5 % to 60% of population.
• Construction of waste water recycling plants to irrigate 1800 acres of land.
• Rehabilitation of drainage system.
• Procurement of sewerage / drainage maintenance equipment.
Presently, 19 million gallons of water per day, according to official sources, is available to the residents of Quetta city that will increase to 36 million gallons per day on the completion of the project. Two water storage dams, Halak and Mangi, will also be constructed in the outskirts of the provincial capital that will ensure another additional ten million gallons of water per day to the city. The dams will also help improve underground water table.
Quetta Water Supply project is a long-term strategy to combat water scarcity and other problems relating to sanitation and water management in Quetta. The project is purported to ensure the supply of water to Quetta for the next twenty to twenty five years. It has been planned that dilapidated pipelines would be replaced by new ones and water storage capacity be enhanced. The improvement of sewerage and sanitation system is also included in the project. One can hope that the Federal and government of Balochistan will complete this project within the cost and time estimated for the project.
AGRICULTURE SUFFERING DUE TO LACK OF PROPER RESEARCH
Lack of proper research and introduction of modern technologies is one of the major causes of our backwardness in different fields as research based solutions are now a days considered a must for human and economic uplift. But the worst. Sufferers of this lapes and neglect is the agriculture sector.
Despite a high profile research organizations like Pakistan Agriculture Research Council at the centre and high powered Research Boards in the four provinces with annual budgets of billion of rupees, research based solutions have not been found for the problems of this sector. As a result our agriculture sector, instead of showing any improvement seems to be on a decline both in terms of quality and quantity. Our yield per acre is the lowest in the region and the quality is also poor. Pakistan which used to be surplus in production of food, pulses vegetables and fruit till about a decade is now importing huge quantities to feed its own people. We are now importing pulses, vegetables, wheat, sugar and now even raw cotton worth billion of rupees adding our trade deficit to a dangerous level. It is estimated that Pakistan has the potential to export agriculture and dairy produce by over Rs.1500 billion annually profit increase if it succeeds to its yield per acre to the level of its regional neighbor like India. India has been able to achieve this improvement in quantity and quality through research and research based solutions to the problems faced by farming community.
Speakers at a seminar recent held in Islamabad on decline of Agriculture Identified as main reason for this decline as inadequate focus on research to attain vertical expansion of the sector.
Speakers at the seminar pointed out that Pakistan's agriculture sector's contribution to our GDP has undergone almost a precipitous decline, i.e. from 53.2 percent in 1950 to approximately 23 percent at present, due largely to inadequate focus on developing new seed varieties with higher crop yield and pest resistance potential. Another equally significant factor in the decline is the reduction in the share of labor force employed by this sector-from 65% in 1950 to 48 percent at present-though it is still the largest sector in terms of employment. As a result, agriculture's role in poverty alleviation and employment generation has considerably shrunk. The government has, meanwhile, launched some new initiatives for stemming the decline, but how far these measures will prove effective remains to be seen.
A major cause of the steep decline in agriculture sector's performance is lack of focus on research and development, and the continued use of traditional, unscientific methods and techniques of cultivation by the majority of farmers. Secondly, natural disasters like floods and pest attacks have stunted the growth of this pivotal sector. Almost similar is the case with agri-industry, with the share of value-added standing at only eight percent of our total food production. Negligible spending on research and development by a various bureaucracy, with is apparently more interested in safeguarding its perks and privileges then in new scientific break through, is the single most important cause of the unenviable state in which our agriculture has lauded. Thirdly, there is serious paucity of research culture in the country, mainly because little premium is put on original work, and there is hardly any reward or even recognition at the end of the day from a dispensation that is a compulsive practitioner of adhocism. Although there are some good research institutions in the country, the bulk of the budget allocated to them is spent on meeting administrative expenses, which leaves pretty little for actual research work. Another major hurdle in the way of research culture in the country is lack of good governance and the rule of merit. There is clearly a need for Pakistani scientists to develop new seed varieties with higher crop yields so as to keep our farm production at the optimum level. An essential adjunct of modernization of agriculture sector in Pakistan will be land reforms, which must be initiated at the earliest.