Cholistan desert area, creating a condition of water scarcity in an already dry and arid region. Water scarcity has affected problems and difficulties for the people living in a desert. It has stood a threat to cattle, wildlife species and crops. Drought condition could be overcome in Cholistan, it has been undergoing a drought over the last several weeks, due to the lack of rainfall and a nationwide heatwave threatening the security of locals and their livestock and crops. Accordingly, 50 livestock were dead during the last week due to dehydration and extreme heat. Pastures have become derelict due to the heat, forcing locals, their livestock to migrate and crops are devastated vegetation. A severe heatwave in March and April devastated vegetation, water resources and livestock in Cholistan region. The high-intensity heatwave persisted for 41 days (from March 11 to April 19), followed by a short spell of six days (April 27 to May 2) of relatively low intensity. Although rainfall was adequate in the region during the winter, the persistent heat wave could presage the onset of drought in Cholistan due to water depletion in ponds and reservoirs. (PMD) assessed by using satellite based.

Overall situation is not very alarming, exceptionally high land surface temperatures had caused considerable damage to vegetation in the eastern part of Cholistan. The surface temperature of land rise due to a consistent temperature in daytime. The probability of drought in the eastern portion is very high in the upcoming months and warned the peoples. Cholistan received very little rain and Hailstorm (3MM) rainfall in Tehsil Fortabbas. Low intensity was also reported in few villages of tehsil Fortabbas. No damage was reported. During the months of February and April, however, the rainfall was negligible. The Cholistan desert straddles three districts: Bahawalpur, Bahawalnagar, and Rahim yar Khan. It is spread over an area of over 6.6 million acres. Over four million acres are situated in Bahawalpur alone. In Division Bahawalpur, the major crop of cotton area 5-7 % damaged due to shortage of canal irrigation & heat wave, resowing is in progress. Indus river system remained more vulnerable as punjnad main canal remained closed up to 18.05.22, now flow started with reduced discgarge capacity i.e. 29% current flow. Moreover, Bahawal canal is still closed. Tail end is suffering from water shortage.

The length of Cholistan is 480km and its width ranges between 32 and 192km. The human population of the region is 155,000, while livestock number over 1.3m. The livestock consist mostly of camels, sheep and goats. The Cholistan region falls in a extremely arid climate. The average temperature ranges from 20 degrees Celsius to 42.2, with June being the hottest month. The highest-ever temperature recorded 50.8 Celsius was at Khanpur (Rahimyar Khan) station in June and the lowest-ever (-4.3°C) in January. The average annual rainfall is 179.3 mm while the record is 247.3mm in the desert’s Bahawalnagar portion. Since the monsoon system brings 67 per cent of the region’s annual rainfall from June to September, the next three months will be decisive for the region. If the amount of rain matches the average rainfall, things will be rosy. Otherwise, drought will not be far behind. It is hardly a mention of the severely drought-hit Cholistan. That arid stretch of land is starved of water as almost all of its 3,000 plus Tobas and Dahars have dried up and there is little hope of rainfall in near future. The concerned authority’s attempt at sending in water tankers to fill the dried ponds. The inhabitants of Cholistan now no more look at the sky for clouds for rain as temperature exceeds 51-plus C. Their livestock are dying, their children getting malnourished and families moving to less-affected areas where they are not welcomed.

Hopefully, the emergency steps promised by the relevant authority to ensure provision of water to fill Tobas materialize at the earliest. But somebody should also go to the place and see for himself the grim realities on the ground. Cholistan was once a green, prosperous land fed by now extinct Harka River. But they could not fight back the climate change as was the case with many other ancient cultures and civilizations. Water Scarcity has caused destruction of Cholistanis main economic asset their livestock and damage to vegetation in the eastern part of Cholistan.

About the Authors:

Muhammad Nazim is an Agriculture Inspector. He is also a passionate writer, researcher, science lover, determined and self-dependent scientist, who is keen to work in the field of agriculture, water, and environment.

Dr. Muqarrab Ali is an Associate Professor at Department of Agronomy, MNS University of Agriculture, Multan.

Dr. Shazia Anjum is the Professor (Dean) of Faculty of Science, The Islamia University of Bahawalpur, Pakistan.