Waterlogging and salinity are among the major issues Pakistan is facing since irrigation development in Indus River Basin. There are various methods being adopted in Sindh and Punjab to deal with these issues including excess irrigation that leads to leaching of salts, utilizing physical and biological methods including chemical amendments, and establishing tube wells to lower groundwater table.
CURRENT CONDITIONS AND AFFECTED AREAS
Nearly half of the population in Pakistan is linked with the agriculture sector. Waterlogging and salinity hinder crop production. These issues are leading factors to unsustainable crop yield in Pakistan.
In Pakistan, more than 6.3 million hectares have been damaged by salinity and 1 million hectares are damaged by waterlogging. Noteworthy efforts have been taken to reduce the severity of this issue but operational cost and maintenance of the launched projects are major turnbacks.
All provinces of Pakistan have reported salinity and waterlogging issues, however, these issues make a huge portion for Punjab and Sindh because of agricultural lands. The Indus River Basin suffers from salinity and waterlogging due to inadequate water management practices, poor surface, and subsurface drainage, water seepage from canals, etc. The quality of the groundwater being used for irrigation is not up to the mark.
REMEDIATION METHODS IN PAKISTAN
Published research indicated that the past few remediation methods were employed to tackle waterlogging and salinity issues in Pakistan. These methods include decreasing supply levels of canals, construction of surface drains, and closing canals during monsoon season. These methods gave temporary relief.
Furthermore, the study also reported management strategies related to waterlogging and salinity. These include few projects that proved effective and some conflicts between Punjab and Sind are still needed to get resolved.
To manage waterlogging and salinity, two systems- one after another – were introduced. The first method was a vertical drainage system and the other was a horizontal drainage system.
Under vertical drainage system around 14000 tube wells were established. Under horizontal drainage system, two projects were launched including Left Bank Out Fall Drain and Right Bank Out Fall Drain. LBOD involved establishing 2000 tube wells, 2000 km long-buried pipes along 5000 structures. It also included 1950 km long surface drains. RBOD is installed on the right side of the Indus River.
Also, the study recommended the integration of drainage and irrigation systems.
Environmental issues like salinity and waterlogging are disastrous for productive soil. Excess water and high concentration of salts are dangerous for soil health and soil biota. A developing country like Pakistan depends on agriculture for foreign exchange earnings and almost half of the population is linked with the agriculture sector. In the case of waterlogging and salinity, the land becomes useless as it cannot be used for irrigation and growing crops. The two provinces of Pakistan Punjab and Sindh have agricultural land and these are the areas where waterlogging and salinity issues are prevalent. The actions that were taken previously to combat these issues were proved fruitful however negligence resulted in the reverse situation. Waterlogging and salinity issues are also posing threats to food security in Pakistan.
If previous work is taken into consideration, then it is recommended that adequate finance should be allotted to tackle waterlogging and salinity issue in Pakistan. Along with that, this issue requires consistency regarding monitoring, maintenance, and operational work. The provincial and federal governments should form a collaborative committee in order to deal with environmental issues.
Also, check out Land/Soil pollution – Causes, Effects, and Control
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– MS Environmental Science
– Content Writer
Researcher, Nature Lover, and Environmentalist