Karachi: Governor Punjab Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar called for amendments to constitution for declaring people access to clean drinking water as fundamental right and making government constitutionally bound to ensure clean and safe drinking water to the people.
He was speaking at a seminar on “Water and Energy” organized by Human Rights Group of Pakistan (HRGP) here at a local hotel on Wednesday under the theme of “Human Faces of Business.”
Ch Sarwar said that it is unfortunate rather shameful for successive governments that even in 21 century over 50 percent people of our country lack access to clean drinking water and hospitals of the country are flooded with patents having waterborne diseases. Underlining the gravity of the situation, he said that it is said 40 percent population of the country are without clean drinking water, but I put it even over 50 percent.
He said besides water, the country is facing many challenges including terrorism, unemployment, extremism and above all the widening gap between rich and poor which is alarming. “May class, which I must call elite class, has never ending ambitions and want to have more and more poor but what the poor and ordinary people want is a two time meal, money to bear the expenses on his/her children education and to finance health bill.”We must ensure these very basic needs to the people of the country,” he demanded.
He hailed the HRGP for organizing the seminar on such an important subject. Talking about the potential of Pakistani nation, the governor said that Pakistani nation is resilient and will overcome all the challenges the country is faced with at present. Referring to power crisis, he said that there was no power to run industries with load shedding spanning over 18 hours daily, there is also law and order situationand other problems, despite all these the wheel of industry is running and the credit for this must be given to the businessmen and industrialists who are not only creating jobs and livelihood for the people but also creating wealth for the country.
Providing basic facilities of life to the people is the responsibility of state and the incumbent government under the wise and visionary leadership of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is making all out efforts to ensure basic health, education and other facilities to the people of the country to enhance their living standard.
“Today Pakistan is facing many difficulties – poverty, unemployment, lack of education and health. Terrorism and less respect for human rights stalk the land. The millions of people are facing problems in daily life due to load shedding and energy crisis. But we need to find solutions and have to fight to make things better. I believe we, the Pakistanis, will win this fight through joint struggle over and above our political alliance and thought. It will be a privilege to be part of this fight,” he added.
“In Punjab we have launched an initiative, ‘Clean Water – Save a Child, to deliver clean & safe drinking water to the school children. This initiative will be delivered in a number of phases with the aim of providing clean drinking water to approximately 100,000 school children in the 1st phase. Clean drinking water has become a grave issue in the recent years in Pakistan, with the biggest issue being biological, chemical and dissolved solids contamination which can be life threatening,” he added. He announced to extend the initiative to other provinces including Sindh, Punjab, Balochistan.
He praised Pak Oasis Industries for providing 150 water treatment plants at 50 percent subsidized prices for the initiative.
Speaking on the occasion, Chairman Human Rights Group of Pakistan Dr Sher Ali Rizi said that global demand for freshwater is mounting. By 2030, in a business as usual scenario, humanity’s demand for water could outstrip sustainable supply by as much as 40 percent. Currently, water withdrawals for agriculture stands for the main share of global water extraction, but in growing regions of the world the energy sector is the largest user of water. Globally, energy consumption is projected to increase by almost 50 percent over the next 20 years.
Both water and energy are essential to every aspect of life; social equity, human health, ecosystem integrity and economic sustainability. The longstanding division between energy and water considerations is particularly evident in the case of energy and water management. Water and energy are closely interlinked and interdependent. Energy generation and transmission requires utilization of water resources, particularly for hydroelectric, nuclear, and thermal energy sources. Conversely, about 8 percent of the global energy generation is used for pumping, treating and transporting water to various consumers, he added
He maintained that despite the inherent connection between the two sectors, energy and water planners routinely make decisions that impact one another without adequately understanding the scientific or policy complexities of the other sector. This miscommunication often hides joint opportunities for conservation to the detriment of budgets, efficiency, the environment and public health, and inhibits both sectors from fully accounting for the financial, environmental or social effects they have on each other.
Addressing the audience, Danish Ambassador Jesper M. Sorensen stated: “Pakistan has done great improvements, when it comes to improving the access to safe drinking-water. The target for 2015 was 93 percent of the population and right now it is 89 – that is the good news. However, in terms of access to sanitation – Pakistan is lagging behind the target of access for 90 percent of the population – right now it is 72 percent.”
Ambassador Sorensen said that although there is more than enough water in the world for domestic purposes, for agriculture and for industry, the challenge lie for the poor, who are excluded from access by their poverty, limited legal rights or by public policies that limit access to the infrastructures that provide water for life and for livelihoods.
Ambassador Sorensen said that there was a need to provide financial resources, support capacity-building, innovation, and research as well as technology transfer. The Ambassador shared that the Danish development support to Pakistan focused on improving the livelihood of the people as well as supporting democracy and human rights. Although not directly supporting the water and sanitation sector in Pakistan, Denmark is aiming at engaging in partnerships between Pakistani and Danish companies. Ambassador Sorensen said that Danish competencies in technology and innovation offer highly advanced solutions that can help Pakistan meet its water challenge and help Pakistan use its water resources more efficiently, and thus limiting CO2 emission.
Speaking on the occasion, Chairman Pak Oasis Industries Saleem Abbas Jillani said: “In electricity in short supply and fresh water resources are depleting , which needs a better water and energy management and conservation.
He said that every year plenty of water is run into the sea from downstream Kotri in monsoon season which is a glaring wastage of such a precious national resources. He called for storing and preserving rains water.
Head of UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Sindh Dr Salman Safdar said that today event is happening in backdoor of Tharparker incident, where shortage of life has such a situation threatening human lives. He said that in 2011 floods, the desert of Tharparker turned into several lakes, but today there is no water. This situation calls for proper storage, preservation and management of water.
On the occasion, Governor Punjab also gave away HRGP’s annual human rights awards to the winners.
Human Rights Award 2014 For Unmatched Humanitarian Services was conferred on Malik Riaz Hussain, Chaimran Bahria Town his unmatched contributions towards philanthropy, humanitarian issues and public welfare projects.
Bahria Town led by Malik Riaz is spending enormously on feeding the poor free of cost through Bahria Dastarkhwan, which provide free meals, twice a day, to more than 35,000 people throughout Pakistan. Overall PKR 30 million rupees are being spent for providing 10,500,000 meals annually. Malik Riaz has been on forefront to serve the suffering humanity in time of distress and natural calamities, whether it was 2005 earthquake or the devastating floods of 2010 and 2011 and most recently the famine that has hit the remote and least developed Tharparker district of Sindh, wherein Bahria Town is active in providing food, medical aid and water to the draught-hit residents.
Human Rights Award 2014 For Outstanding Social Services went to Late Haji Abdul Razzak Yaqoob.
Haji Sahib was head of a leading business group of the country but he stood out among his compatriots not for founding one of the largest groups of the country, but for his social and welfare services. His philanthropy and extensive social work amongst the community was well respected by Pakistanis around the world. HRGP confers posthumously Human Rights Award 2014 for Outstanding Social Services on late on Haji Abdul Razzaq Yaqoob, which was received Shoaib Ghandhi, Director ARY Group.
Human Rights Award 2014 for Human Rights Initiatives was conferred on Governor Punjab Ch. Muhammad Sarwar for his commitment toward human rights and the great height he has attained with regards to charity/social work and other causes. That included building two magnificent hospitals for the poor of the Punjab – a £ 2 million venture at Rajana and another £ 1 million re-development at Chichawatni. He also established the state-of-the-art Foundation Public School – Al Noor Complex in Pir Mahal.
Human Rights Award 2014 for Best Performance in Water and Energy was given to Pak Oasis Industries (Pvt) Ltd. The award was received by CEO Pak Oasis Irshad Hussain.
Earlier, Secretary General HRGP Iftikhar Hussain in his welcome address hailed the guests and participants for participation in the seminar. He also gave a brief introduction of HRGP and its activities.
The seminar was attended by a large numbers of bureaucrats, IG Sindh, diplomats, water and energy sector experts.