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Water availability key to poverty alleviation, says Salman Shah

ISLAMABAD: Former finance minister Dr Salman Shah on Saturday said availability of water was the key to poverty alleviation as desperation was rampant in water scarce areas.

He was addressing an international symposium titled ‘Creating a Water Secure Pakistan’ organised at the Supreme Court by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar. The two-day moot was inaugurated yesterday by President Dr Arif Alvi who stressed on water conservation and mistrust between provinces.

He said poverty was not witnessed in areas where water was available in abundance, adding that water was a source of life as growth of civilisation, energy and industry was also linked with it.

Dr Salman said efficient water management was imperative for increasing agricultural production as almost half of the available produce was wasted due to an inefficient management system.

He said the entire barren lands of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa could be irrigated by constructing the Kalabagh Dam. He added the construction of new water reservoirs on war footing was necessary for a prosperous Pakistan as utilising one million acre feet water could generate $2 billion income per year..

He said financial resources for the construction of new water reservoirs could be arranged like the Neelum-Jhelum hydropower generation project which was built through funds collected from electricity consumers.

“A small amount was imposed as Neelum-Jhelum surcharge on each electricity consumer and similarly the users could finance the gigantic water storage projects,” he added.

He said the Diamer-Bhasha dam could be constructed in seven years and Mohmand dam in five years, and that provinces should also contribute towards constructing the dams.

Furthermore, he said the entire Indus river system could be developed if each of 120 million citizens contribute $5 per annum.

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