PESHAWAR, Oct 10 :Pakistan is water-stressed country and is nearing the threshold of water scarcity. This was stated by speakers during a media briefing session conducted by WWF-Pakistan under the project titled International Labour and Environmental Standards (ILES) Application in Pakistan’s Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). According to a press release issued on Tuesday, the six-year project, funded by the European Union, is jointly being implemented with the International Labour Organization(ILO) in Lahore, Karachi, Sialkot and Faisalabad. The project aims to implement international labour and environmental standards inPakistan in order to improve the capacity of the public sector to implementMultilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) and national environmental lawsand standards in Pakistan. The project involves building capacity of the textile and leather sector to adoptSmart Environmental Management Practices (SEMPs) in order to efficiently usewater and energy resources and reduce the use of hazardous chemicals by 15 to20 per cent.Further the project aims at contributing to improvement in industry basedlaws so that Pakistan’s export market can compete with international labour andenvironmental standards. According to Hammad Naqi Khan, Director General, WWF-Pakistan, Pakistan is a waterstressed country and is nearing the threshold of water scarcity. Access to safe drinking water in rural and urban areas is declining and provision ofpotable water is a key issue that people face. He also said that the implementation of laws pertaining to industrial effluentsgenerated from the textile and leather industries are weak. Further,industrial waste from these industries contains heavy metals such as copper,chromium, and nickel. He was of the view that safe drinking water should be made available to thepopulation and industries need to ensure proper disposal of solid and liquidwaste. Industries should also ensure that the labour force working in theirfacilities are not exposed to harmful chemicals. ‘WWF-Pakistan is committed toprotecting the freshwater resources of the country and improving water access,efficiency, and allocation for people and the environment,’ he added. Speaking on the occasion, Arjmand Qayyum, Coordinator ILES, WWF-Pakistan said that the textile and leather sectors represent the largest domain of the industrial base and play a key role in the country’s economy. He shared that these industries are resource intensive where large amounts ofwater, energy and chemicals of different classes are used, contributing to an overallincrease in pollution levels in the country. He also said that due to poor management and unwise use of water, most of our population is deprived of this basic amenity of life. He informed that WWF-Pakistan will initiate a study on the situation analysis ofwater resources in Karachi and will establish a case for a citywide partnershipfor responsible use of the resource. While, Sohaib Anwar, Senior Officer ILES, WWF-Pakistan said that it is critical toanalyse the current situation and revise statistics on water quantity andquality in major cities of Pakistan. He further said that various industrialsectors in the city must reduce their carbon footprint and make climateresilient initiatives that will help address issues related to water and energyefficiency in these cities while a better image of Pakistan will be projectedin the world.