Water Scarcity: Why is Thar Running Dry?

By: Rahib Ali Rind

Water scarcity is a daunting challenge for the people of Thar. The largest desert of Pakistan islocated in the south-east. It's population is nearly 1.6 million, with the lowest HumanDevelopment Index(HDI) in Sindh province. Similarly, they face not only water scarcity but alsofood shortage, energy crisis, agricultural backwardness and inadequate infrastructure as well.Unfortunately, they are in the midst of all evils, crises, and issues. They travel 4-5 km for thesake of gaining water from underground and wells for drinking and domestic purposes. It is analarming stage. Water is an essential element for the survival for living organisms, for theagriculture purpose and also for the production of electricity. Consequently, the government ispaying no attention to this unbridled growth of this crisis.As a result, there is huge difference between demand and supply of different necessities of life.Fortunately, the Thar is blessed with precious natural resources but improper use of theseresources further aggravate the situation. It is worth mentioning here that the Basic Principlesof Economics is 'resources are scarce and efficient use of these resources should be adapted sothat these can bring happiness to human beings.'Moreover, they are deprived of basic rights due to certain reasons. Resources of the Thar aremainly depended upon rainfalls. Rainfalls are considered to be backbone of Thar's prosperityand bring happiness among people. So, agriculture production is in direct relationship withrainfall.In the same way, lack of reservoirs, political instability, mismanagement, disunity amongpeople, low rainfall, overpopulation and over consumption are the major culprits in thisregard. Rainfall is limited in this deset.One recent example is the Sindh government’s proposed USD 33 million project in 2015.Approximately, 750 Reverse Osmosis (RO) water purification plants were to be installed inTharparkar. Many years later, barely 400 RO plants exist and at least 70% are dysfunctional.It claimed that provincial authorities spent Rs. 29 billion on 1337 schemes of water supply anddrainage during the last five years, while 582 of water supply and drainage schemes out of 1337were non-functional.There is no denying the fact that water scarcity leaves averse implications over energy crisis,mass destruction, abject poverty, agricultural destruction, widespread illiteracy and pullingdown of economy.The government promised but failed to fulfil funding commitments. Despite this attitude fromthe government, the company continued to finance the plants through its meagre resources.Consequently, death and destitution continue to haunt Thar. At least 400 children die frommalnutrition and disease. According to a report on April 16, 2019, over 505 children died inThar in 2018, 450 in 2017; 479 in 2016 and 398 in 2015 respectively. People are unable to get aquality education. There is abject poverty and instability. The standard of their lives are goingdown.Without surface water infrastructure and in the aftermath of consistently ineffectivegovernment schemes, the most practical way to help Tharis is constructing a canal from theSindh district of Umerkot to Islamkot in Tharparkar.The government should make long term as well as short term plans for curtailing water crisisby introducing new dams and reservoirs. In the short term, most of the dams are underconstruction, so, that should have accomplished as soon as possible. Besides that, in the longterm, the state should introduce new small dams for the utter of water shortage.Currently, experts say the construction of a canal is possible and would be a welcome step inaddressing the plight of the Thari people, infighting and apathy from political parties make itsrealisation difficult.In the same fashion, disunity among thari people are backbone of their destruction. This archaiccharacter has preyed them to deprivations of basic rights.Thari women have made a record with their excellent turnout in the 2018 general elections andemerged as those with the highest voter turnout ratios across Pakistan in the history.The rain-dependent region of Thar has 574,333 are registered voters among them 254,522 are womenvoters.Hence, it can be said that indigenous Thari leader can bring happiness by leaps and boundsafter paying concentration over curbing social crises.Likewise, the state must ponder over sufficient use of natural resources. It can buildeconomically strong and great region. By and large, it needs immediate attention to curb thisissue.