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'Cycle gang' takes to streets on Climate Diplomacy Day

Diplomats from European Union, wildlife conservationists and environment activists cycled in Islamabad on Sunday to raise awareness for climate change after experts warned Pakistan could face massive droughts in the near future.

The event which marked the Climate Diplomacy Day was organised by the European Union and WWF-Pakistan to raise awareness for the harmful effects of greenhouse emissions by promoting eco-friendly modes of transportation.

The Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) made the grim forecast in a new report which claimed the country touched the “water stress line” in 1990 before crossing the “water scarcity line” in 2005.

An unnamed government official in the South Asian country told media that urgent research is needed to find a solution but warned of a lack of available government funds.

Pakistan has the world’s fourth highest rate of water use but is dependent on water from a single source – the Indus River basin in India – and rainfall has been steadily declining, with some experts claiming this is down to climate change.

Millions live in Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi – but very few have running water after the land has gradually dried up, forcing many residents to queue for hours for supplies to be given to them.

Shamsul Mulk, former chairman of the Water and Power Development Authority in the country, said water policy is simply non-existent in Pakistan. Policymakers act like “absentee landlords” over water, he added.

“Because of this absentee landlordism, water has become the property of the landlords and the poor are deprived of their share."

Experts say that population growth and urbanisation are the main reasons behind the crisis. Some say the issue has been exacerbated by climate change and poor water management.

Energy sector expert Irfan Chaudhry said the authorities appear to lack the political will to tackle the problem.

“There are no proper water storage facilities in the country. Pakistan hasn't built new dams since the 1960s. What we see is political bickering over the issue. The authorities need to act now. We can store water for only 30 days, and it is worrisome,” Chaudhry told local media.

Some politicians have warned of “massive corruption” in the water sector with some seeking to profiteer from the scarcity of a vital resource.

Others blame India for the Pakistani water crisis and claim that New Delhi is failing to uphold the terms of the Indus Waters Treaty brokered by the World Bank in 1960 which regulates control of the rivers between the two nations.

Source: The Nation

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