Groundwater governance in Pakistan: An emerging challenge

Ghulam Zakir-Hassan, Catherine Allan, Jehangir F. Punthakey, Lee Baumgartner, Mahmood Ahmad

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Water is an essential ingredient for life on this planet; major human civilizations settled along waterways. Control of water has remained central to all rulers. Water was under the jurisdiction of the national/federal government until the 18th amendment in the constitution of Pakistan in 2010. Groundwater has also become vitally important as demand for it has increased over the years in order to fill water supply-demand gaps and to safeguard against climate changes. Currently, surface water can irrigate only 27% of Pakistan’s land, while the remaining 73% is irrigated directly or indirectly with groundwater. Punjab uses around 90% of the country’s total extracted groundwater and is thus its food basket. Groundwater has become a source of drought mitigation and has thus helped in bringing a green revolution in the IRB. Uneven spatial and seasonal availability of surface water coupled with unplanned, unregulated, and poorly governed use of groundwater has resulted in multifarious and complicated water issues in the country, such as the over-mining of aquifers in freshwater areas, waterlogging and salinity, deterioration of quality, increasing energy use and overall extraction costs and interprovincial disputes. Climatic changes have aggravated the situation. After the 18th amendment, water policy was subject to the provinces and they have started to promulgate relevant policies and regulatory framework. Punjab has taken the lead in this area. This chapter encapsulates the recent policy paradigm shifts by the Punjab government to combat the challenges of water scarcity. Current initiatives by the Punjab government, including the Punjab Water Policy 2018, Punjab Water Act 2019, Punjab Local Govt Act 2019, The Punjab Khal Panchayat Act 2019, Punjab Local Govt Ordinance 2021, Punjab Water Resources Commission 2021, Punjab Water Services Regularity Authority 2021, have been discussed and evaluated as to how they can be helpful in mitigating the water crisis.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWater policy in Pakistan
Subtitle of host publicationIssues and options
EditorsMahmood Ahmad
Place of PublicationSwitzerland
Number of pages38
ISBN (Electronic)9783031361319
ISBN (Print)9783031361302
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Publication series

NameGlobal Issues in Water Policy
ISSN (Print)2211-0631
ISSN (Electronic)2211-0658


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