No more diversions, cuts on Indus to keep biological diversity intact

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HYDERABAD: Speakers at the National Water Conference demanded restoration of the River Indus and stopping more diversions and cuts in the name of building barrages and canals to save the river ecology, as three million people depend on the delta for their livelihood.


Giving presentations at the national water conference organised by the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) under its Keep River Free Movement, the experts said ecology is the major stakeholder, which must be given water as per its needs.


They said a large number of marine species, including flora and fauna, have disappeared from the delta because of the persistently declining river flow.


Researchers, academia, water activists and political leaders shared their points of view on the occasion, saying it is time that all the politicians, and nature conservationists came out together to raise voice to restore the natural flow of the river.


PPP leader Taj Haidar, quoting ANG Abbasi, who had designed an assessment report for the Musharraf government, said Bhasha Dam was being built, despite the fact there is not enough water available in the river systems.

There is no operational criterion for the Chashma-Jehlum Link Canal and Taunsa Barrage. There should be a consensus on the set criteria to avert differences among the people of smaller provinces.


He pointed out that the growers have changed priorities and replaced food production with producing cash crops. “We should adopt multi dimensional approach to utilise the flood water efficiently,” he said, adding that increasing water logging was another problem, which has affected 65 percent of total fertile land of the province.


Mohammed Ali Shah, Chairperson Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF), said water is life. It is the common property of environment, ecology and for keeping intact biological diversity.


The dam industry is active in the world, blocking streams of natural rivers, impacting badly the communities living at the tail-end areas. Dams cause degradation of natural flow of rivers.


Similarly, in Indus Delta of Sindh the dam industry is impacting the life and livelihoods of thousands of people living in Thatta and Badin districts.


Shah said when you stop the flow of the river, it will die gradually. Condemning the role of dam industry, he said there might be secret hands for diversions and cuts to the river water, which the PFF opposes.


He said dam construction is a part of global politics. There is a strong lobbying group, which have investors.


He said only 21 rivers out of total 292 rivers in the world, including River Indus reach downstream or their tail ends. Otherwise, majority of them are dead, as none of them reaches the tail end, because of blockades in their flows.


He said the deltaic communities have the first right on water and the government should ensure proper supply of water to them through the River Indus. He said the sea level rise may engulf the entire districts of Thatta and Badin.


Dr Qadir Magsi said all the Sindhi nationalist parties have common understanding about dams and water share of the province. He rejected the arguments of the successive governments regarding dam building and barrages, which he said have caused degradation of fertile land, forests and marine life.


Before the development of an irrigation system on the River Indus, the entire flow passed through Sindh’s plains to the Arabian Sea, culminating into 17 branches called creeks and forming the seventh largest delta of the world. An annual flow of over 180 million acre feet (MAF) carrying a silt load of about 440 million tons passed through Indus to the Arabian Sea.


Gulab Shah giving an indigenous perspective into the Indus Delta said that paddy and banana crops were main products of the deltaic area, but presently there is no more such product.


Dairy producers have more contribution in the export, but presently the irony is that there is no safe green pasture for surviving the herdsmen families. He said streaming river water to tail end is only way out to protect the delta.


Nazir Essani, General Manager Sindh Irrigation Development Authority (Sida), said water quality and environmental need should be incorporated in the water accord. He rejected the theory that those who can afford to buy water while others should die. Against this, he said water is a recognised human right in the entire world.


Awami Jamhoori Party (AJP) leader Abrar Qazi, Zulfiqar Shah of PILER, Mustafa Baloch of Strengthening Participatory Organisation (SPO), Dr Dodo Maheri, General Secretary Sindh United Party (SUP), senior journalist Ishaq Magrio, Saeed Baloch, Jameel Junejo, Mustafa Meerani, Gulab Shah, Ayub Shar of the PML-N and others also spoke.

Courtesy:  The NEws

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