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Karezes as a World Cultural Heritage

Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) in collaboration with the Government of Balochistan has successfully pleaded the case for "Karezes in Balochistan" for inclusion in the list of Cultural, Natural and Mixed Heritage sites in Pakistan suitable for inscription on World Heritage list of UNESCO. It has been placed at Rank No. 1 under the sites recommended for Cultural sites. Karez irrigation system is a peculiar and one of the oldest-gravity irrigation system mostly in arid and semi-arid areas of the world. A karez is a masterwork of hydraulic engineering and cultural unity. This system was a major means of irrigation in Balochistan until 80s. However, the Karez irrigated area is continuously shrinking from 200,000 hectare in 1971 to around 27,000 hectare in 2012. Karez system is vanishing principally due to subsidized electric and diesel pumping of groundwater, due to which the watertable is declining @ 3 m/year in many parts of Balochistan. The rehabilitation of these systems is too difficult rather impossible due to continuous land use changes, urbanization & associated infrastructure developments. It is therefore of prime importance to declare Karezes of Balochistan as World Heritage so to protect centuries old marvelous structures and to preserve their social and cultural values.