Consultative Meeting Groundwater Legislation for Islamabad Capital Territory -January 13, 2022

Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) in collaboration with WaterAid, Pakistan organized a consultative meeting on January 13, 2022 at PCRWR headquarter Islamabad, for the review of first draft on “Ground water Regulatory Framework” for Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT). This draft was developed in collaboration with Water Aid and their legal consultants Musawi Pakistan. The representatives from various organizations from Government departments, Water Aid, WHO, UNICEF, World Bank and UNESCO Pakistan attended the meeting. Addressing the audience Dr. Muhammad Ashraf, Chairman, PCRWR stressed upon the need for development of a groundwater regulation in the light of emerging issues in water sector like water demand and supply gap in Pakistan specially in ICT. He highlighted the fact that ground water abstraction in country is greater than recharge which is evident from the prevailing situation of groundwater depletion rate in various cities. He quoted the examples of Quetta valley which is facing groundwater depletion at 6 m/ year and Lahore as well as Islamabad at 1m/ year. However, annual precipitation in Islamabad is more than 1 m, therefore, the Chairman PCRWR emphasized that trapping 25% of the annual rainfall either by surface or ground interventions, may help recharging the aquifer along with other water management practices. He briefed about the recent initiatives of the council regarding water resource management and rainwater harvesting in Islamabad Capital Territory. The technical water resource assessment of ICT was presented by Dr. Naveed Iqbal, Director Hydrology (PCRWR) and the draft paper on groundwater legislations was presented by Ms. Fatima Bukhari, Chief Executive officer of Musawi, Pakistan. Consultative discussion was carried out by participants of various organizations from technical to legal aspects and it was agreed upon that public engagement at all steps of the legislative formulation is essential. It was also strongly voiced that there must be a mechanism for implementation of the law in letter and spirit based on accountability.