Dr. Erum Sattar speaks on 'Pakistan's Lifeline: Management and Regulations of Indus Water'

March 4, 2019: The SSLA department, IBA invited Visiting Fellow at Harvard Law School Dr. Erum Sattar to deliver a talk on Pakistan's Lifeline: Management and Regulations of Indus Water. The event was attended by Executive Director IBA, Dr. Farrukh Iqbal, SSLA Chairperson Dr. Faiza Mushtaq, SSLA Professor Aliya Naqvi, Assistant Professor SSLA Dr. Laila Farooq, other faculty and students.

The discussion began with Dr. Sattar highlighting the similarities between the Colorado Basin in the US and the Indus River Basin in order to establish that the two terrains are similar with regards to the water allocation. She proceeded to highlight the characteristics of the Indus River Basin followed by tracing its water distribution statistics. She said that 95 percent of the water found in the Indus River Basin is used for agricultural and crop yielding purposes.

She moved on to address the issues of water distribution within the basin by saying that the challenge is to allocate water equally across a huge region where there is over allocation in some places and under allocation in others. She said that there is a problem of contestation between provinces of Sindh and Punjab where water rivalry is persistent. Furthermore, the actual challenges of water distribution are not being dealt with by the institutions that are installed to keep checks and balances. She said that ground water pumping has no licencing authority and hence it is left unregulated. She also added that 1/3rd of our land is affected by water logging and salinity.

Dr. Sattar then proceeded to inform the audience about the ways in which the Indus River Basin can learn from the methods adopted by the Colorado Basin. The Colorado Basin has been struck by a drought since over 20 years and yet they have adapted do the conditions, which is evident by the fact that their production has increased. Moreover, they have installed a transparent three-tier system to ensure that they have a plan to subscribe to depending on the shortage, surplus and normal availability of water.

The ceremony was concluded by Dr. Sattar highlighting some solutions to tackle the issue of water scarcity in Pakistan. She said that just like the Colorado Basin, the Indus River Basin also needs to have a transparent system of water supply so there is no contestation amongst provinces due to lack of communication and information on the issue.

The end of the event was marked by a riveting Q&A session between Dr. Sattar and the audience.