The irrigation system of Balochistan is beyond dilapidated, and the government needs to take serious steps to resolve this issue now rather than later. Centuries’ old canals that relied on groundwater reserves have now been depleted to dangerous levels, and a very fundamental part of the economy of the province (agriculture) stands to collapse as a result.
With weather patterns as unstable as they are – the current dry spell over the country is expected to last till 2017 – getting the irrigation system to function is what will support the livelihood of countless people in the province. Agriculture is a substantial contributor to the province’s economy, coming second only to the revenues generated from natural resources in terms of its contribution Balochistan’s economy.
The country as a whole relies greatly on agriculture, and Balochistan is no different, with the exception of the abundance of natural resources being the only thing that makes the province’s reliance on agriculture less than others. But this dependency is still substantial. And it is also important to shift the province’s dependency on its non-renewable natural resources, and look to secure a more stable, sustainable economy. Natural resources cannot keep the province running indefinitely. A long term solution to the lingering economic questions in the province are needed. Agriculture is a readily available answer.
The province of Balochistan already lags behind the rest of the country, and the national irrigation problem has manifested itself in the worst form, as things are likely to happen in Balochistan. While endemic of a national problem, focusing on the underdeveloped province should be made a priority in order to keep it on equal terms with the rest of the country. The province has already complained of a less-than fair share in the country’s water resources and these misgivings could potentially be removed if the irrigation system of Balochistan is fixed enough to not waste the precious little water that makes its way into the province.
The Asian Development Bank has offered $100 million for water and irrigation projects in Balochistan. The World Bank approved a six-year ‘Balochistan Integrated Water Resource Management and Development Project’ worth a reported $253.73 million. But still issues persist. There is no evidence to support that the residents of potentially affected areas were actually consulted, and the EIA’s report about the project’s feasibility has glaring lacunas. Experts have talked of misplaced priorities in the plans. The problem of irrigation is one that affects the people of Balochistan more than other developmental issues, which is why bringing them on board as stakeholders should be made a priority.
Source: The Nation
November 29, 2016