Gilgit - Baltistan

[Special Report] World Water Day celebrated at NUST

Syed Hasnain

Islamabad, March 21: World communities have been celebrating World Water Day on 22nd of March since 1993. This special day is celebrated in view of the immense importance of this precious commodity. It grew out of agenda 21 of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

A different advocacy theme is specified for each year. This year’s theme is, “Water and Food Security: The World is Thirsty Because We are Hungry”.

Water resources around the planet is depleting and polluting day by day and many countries  face severe conditions in terms of availability of water. As Pakistan is also situated in the arid region and it also faces water scarcity. On the occasion of world water day 2012 NUST (National University Of Sciences and Technology) and ERRA (Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority) jointly conducted a seminar on “Rainwater Harvesting and Conservation” to provide an alternate solution for water scarce areas and to aware the people about the importance of each and every drop of water and store these precious pearls of nature.

Before commencement of the seminar, the students of NEC (NUST Environment Club) along with the participants of the seminar conducted a “Water Conservation Walk” to highlight the importance of water resources.

Due to global warming and climatic changes in water patterns melting of glaciers and polar ice, the sea levels are rising day by day and the population of coastal regions are in real danger. Under these conditions the availability of fresh water is limited day by day. Only 1% of world’s total water is comprised of fresh water and out of this 1% only 1 % is available for daily purpose uses. The big dilemma of our environment is that we ourselves are polluting this limited resource which is matter of life and death for all of us. Without it, there is no life. Due to exponential increase in population and water utility, the underground water table is decreasing day by day and environmental scientists are afraid of this alarming situation. If precautionary measures are not taken immediately, our survival will be a big question mark. As many analysts have already predicted that after the year 2025, the major wars among different nations will be fought on the basis of water issues. Under these circumstances we should act on time, to save life and to save this fragile planet.

The seminar was attended by different Government and Non government organizations, including PERRA, SERRA, UNESCO, PCSIR, NHST, Maqsood Welfare Foundation, Women Welfare Organization Punch, Anjumane Fala- o -Behbood and many other organizations  The Cuban ambassador to to Pakistan was also there to support the noble cause.

The presence of world renowned hydrologist Dr Shehbaz Ahmed khan (chief water and sustainable development section UNESCO Division of water sciences, Paris)has beautify and glorify the event. He is world’s prominent scientist and has worked in almost every region of the world. He is also a writer of 250 scientific research publications and the winner of various international awards.

After the arrival of chief guest, the seminar is formally initiated with the verses from Holy Quran. General Mehmoodullah khan, Deputy Chairman ERRA chaired the seminar. On welcome note, pro rector NUST Engr Muhammad Mushtaq introduced NUST thoroughly and welcomes the participants. After that, DG WatSan Tariq Feroz presented a brief introduction of the projects of ERRA in Earthquake affected areas in AJK and KPK. He told the participants that ERRA has completed 93% of its water projects and remaining are entering in their final stages. He further added, before ERRA there was only one water testing laboratory for the whole earthquake affected areas of KPK, AJK and Kohistan. Now they have established 17 water testing laboratories to ensure safe and pure drinking water to minimize the water borne diseases.2.5 million people are benefited from this program so far. The organization has successfully completed 4700 water supply schemes and reinstated sanitation and solid waste management facilities under its water and sanitation programme “WatSan”.

A documentary prepared by ERRA was also shown.After the deadliest 2005 earthquake, due to the movements of tectonic plates, many springs in the region dried up and water supply schemes were devastated. In those areas the population was totally dependent on these springs. This tragedy  suffered people in every sphere of life. People were unable to get a single drop of water. Therefore ERRA came up with the idea of rainwater harvesting and now almost each household has their own water facility “the water stores is the water generates”. The thought provoking quote has saved the million lives.

Now it’s Dr Shehbaz’s turn.  The title of his was presentation “Global Initiatives on Rainwater Harvesting”. He told  the audiences about the different practices around the world to save and store water according to different climatic conditions.

 Before the tea break the chief guest Gen.Mehmoodullah khan addressed the audience and inaugurated a Rain Water Harvesting project at NUST.

After the tea break, the second session of the seminar started. The speakers were Syed Zaheer Hussain Gardaizi (Ex DG WatSan) and the people from academia of NUST were Dr Zaheer Ahmed khan(HoD environmental engineering at IESE,SCEE,NUST) Dr liaqat (Associate Dean NICE,SCEE,NUST), Dr A.D Khan(Director hydrology PCSIR) were also among the speakers. Rizwan khan the resident of KPK and   Danish Naeem, resident of AJK  shared their personal experiences after the earthquake and role of ERRA.

The speakers emphasized  that for a region where whole population is dependent on rainwater should get benefits from rainwater harvesting and it is also an important technique to save our water resources and it can also help to reduce floods.” this water can use for any purpose whether it is for drinking, cooking or washing, agriculture and horticulture, normally people believes that it is not safe for drinking purposes but it is not the case, it is safe” added one of the speaker. Many solutions were suggested by these environmental experts and on the spot many service providers have also present there with their stalls and different suitable models. International donors and diplomats were present to ensure their help to support the cause at any level.

When intellectuals meet together this is obvious that questions arise. Dr Shehbaz conducted this session. Participants had asked interesting and thought provoking questions and experts had addressed these queries in precise manner and  in cool and calm environment.

Dr Sher Jamal Khan(IESE,SCEE,NUST) came up with the recommendations of the seminar and everybody in the conference  agreed upon these points and urged that these recommendations should consider by government and laws should draft to reinforce these ideas and implement them to safeguard the interests of community.

At the end pro rector NUST, Dr Asif Raza Khan  concluded the ceremony and offer his  help to facilitate each individual who has an idea for sustainable development, he said NUST is anxiously ready to collaborate with any organization, its doors are always open for all.

The chief guest distributed souvenirs among the speakers and ERRA presented souvenir to chief guest as well. All the participants were directed to have their lunch after that.

At 1500 hours the seminar came to an end with the hope of conserving water and water resources so that the future generations will face less problems to tackle the issue of water scarcity.

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