Areawise Balochistan is the largest province but as far as its population is concerned, it is the lowest as compared to other provinces. Quetta being the provincial capital of Balochistan was basically planned for 50,000 people. But now its population has reached to 2.5 million. Quetta was called once the fruit basket of Pakistan as there were large number of karezez (under ground channels) in the surroundings of Quetta for agriculture purposes. Because of abundance of water there were orchards of different tasty fruits. What to talk of Karezes, now, underground water is not available at 1000 ft.
According to Managing Director (MD) of WASA there were many reasons for it. He said that one reason was absence of rains for a long time.”Absence of rains or low rains, the table of underground water has fallen sharply “ he said and added “rains are main source of recharge of underground water in Quetta valley but because of absence of rains, underground water is not being recharged”. He said that instead of recharging the underground water is continuously pumped ruthlessly.
Mir Mujeeb-ur- Rehman Qambarani Managing Director (MD) of WASA Quetta.
He said that hundreds of tube wells have been installed in and surroundings of Quetta city. These include domestic and agriculture tube wells. He said , underground water reservoirs are pumped carelessly through these tube wells. According to MD WASA, the underground water table was at 500 ft but now we drill water from 1000 ft and some where water is available at 700 ft.
Describing the availability of water in Balochistan, MD WASA said that there were 428 tube wells in Quetta for provision of drinking water. Out of them 30 were dried and now approximately 398 are being operated by WASA. He said, all these tube wells are being operated through electricity but now with the cooperation of China we are installing 5 new systems comprising on Solar system. We are trying gradually to switch over to solar system to save power.
He said that water is a precious gift of Allah Almighty. We should not waste it, he said and added that awareness in this regard is necessary so that people could utilize water in accordance with their needs. People carelessly use water in homes, mosques and agriculture sector. He said that flood irrigation is one of the biggest way of wastage of water. MD WASA said that there was dire need of changing the pattern of irrigation.
He said that the population of Quetta has reached to 2.5 million.” Because of shortage of water WASA is providing water to 75 percent of population because of it remaining 25 percent is dependent on tanker mafia” he said adding “ we are trying to regulate the prices of tankers so that people could be provided water on cheaper rates”.
Mujeeb Qambarani said that WASA is going to initiate many programmes to create awareness amongst people for proper use of water. He said that for this purpose seminars will be held in colleges and universities.
Director General Energy department Nusrat Baloch told that so far 29522 electric connections have been given for agriculture purposes. He said that for this purpose, government is giving subsidy to growers. “ The normal monthly bill of a tube well can be 75000 rupees. 25 percent of it is paid by provincial government which amounts to 39000 rupees. 40 percent of it is paid by federal government which becomes 26000 rupees. Growers pay remaining 10 percent of this amount which amounts to 10000 or little more”. He said that government is making efforts to shift 30 thousand tube wells on solar energy. The main objective of this is to save power and underground water , he said and added that solar power is used only in the day times.
Mr. Nusrat Baloch Director General Energy Department.
Nusrat Baloch ,informed that 142 tube wells were converted from electricity to Solar power last year in Kharan at a cost of 200 million rupees. He said that this was effort of government to shift all tube wells on solar power. He said, this will help in saving of both electricity and water. He said that in some areas growers use electricity along with solar power to drill maximum water, which is one of the biggest reason for decreasing of underground water.
Energy Department Balochistan converted tub well from electricity to solar energy
Nusrat Baloch said that there was need for creating awareness amongst masses so that they change pattern of crop cultivation and priority must be given to those crops which need less water. He said that not only people should opt for those crops which need less water but there yield should also be better so that they could get better benefits. He said that presently, people are cultivating those crops which need maximum water and the profit of these crops is also low.
A grower Haji Ghulam said that agriculture has become a costly business in Balochistan. He said that on the other hand, other opportunities of employment and business are also low in Balochistan . Because of this situation, the dependence of people on agriculture and livestock is very much high, he said and added that due to low rate of rains both sectors have been badly affected. He said that tube wells have been dried.” This can be gauged from the fact that he drilled 10 tube wells and all of them dried resulting the drying of his entire orchard” he said.
Pumping water through Tube well for drinking and agri purpose
Haji Ghulam told that growers after taking risks invest millions of rupees. He said that not only there is no water for crops because of falling of underground water table while on the other hand growers face losses because of damages to their submersibles. “Burning of a single submersible causes loss of two to three lac rupees”.
A farmer of Balochistan
He added that the other factor which is troublesome for growers is low prices of their yield. He said that government doesnot take steps for better marketing of their crops therefore every year they face losses instead of getting benefit.
He appealed both the federal and provincial governments for adopting grower friendly policies like Iran. He said that Iran not only provides easy loans to growers but Iranian government takes steps for marketing of their crops. Also contributed by Muhammad Kazim Reporter.