LAHORE: Federal Minister for Water Resources Syed Khurshid Ahmad Shah said on Saturday that all possible efforts were being made to increase water storage capacity in the country.
Talking to the business community here at Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry (LCCI), he said, “We were planning to increase agricultural production to enhance our export, but the floods dealt a serious blow to the national economy.” He said that water capacity of Pakistan was 140 million acre feet, but the storage capacity was only 13 million acre feet.
The federal minister said that infrastructure was being built, which would increase the storage capacity by 14 to 15 million acre feet. He said that 80 per cent of Pakistan’s economy was related to agriculture, but the vital sector had been ignored for long. He said that unfortunately, the country’s rainwater worth US$10-15 billion was wasted every year and “we look to the world for US$2 billion aid”.
Khurshid Shah said, “We had realised today’s situation four or five years ago, and the opposition had proposed a charter of economy to the then government, though it should have been asked to the opposition by the government.” He said that Pakistan was a rich and resourceful country. “If it is moved in the right direction, it could become self-reliant,” he added.
The minister informed the business community that the parliament pass 30 legislations in a single day for welfare of masses, which was a record.
The minister said that 50-60 years ago, rupee and dollar were almost equal, but today there was a huge difference, adding that appropriate and durable measures were needed to cope with dollar flight against rupee.
He said that in 1994-95, an agreement was signed to produce cheap electricity from coal, but it was terminated as soon as the government changed.
He said that the LCCI efforts for the flood affected people were commendable. He said that the business community had played a leading role in the developed economies.
LCCI President Mian Nauman Kabir said that dams should be built without any further delay as floods were getting worse with the passage of time. “First floods and later droughts play havoc with the country,” he said and added that Iran was saving water by man-made lakes, “while we are wasting it to the sea”.
He mentioned that the LCCI had always played its role in the time of difficulty or natural calamity, asserting that that had not only created Flood Relief Fund worth Rs 50 million but were also supplying tents, foods items to the affected areas.
He said that the LCCI Executive Committee Members had decided to rebuild a village containing at least 100 houses with its own resources. This would be a community based development project which would include a school, a technical training centre, a healthcare centre for general public and another healthcare centre for animals. Moreover, the chamber also planned to supply electricity to the village through solar panels and ensure full arrangements for proper sanitation.
Mian Nuaman Kabir said that there was a need to change the energy mix by focusing on renewable energy, particularly solar power. He proposed that special financing schemes at low interest rate should be initiated for renewable energy projects. (APP)