THE government of Sindh, under the guidance of the chief minister, has decided to opt for the rehabilitation of the Sukkur Barrage instead of replacing it.
The lone voice of Syed Khurshid Ahmed Shah, leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, had been demanding an altogether new barrage, but sense prevailed as an experienced team of engineers and structural experts from Sindh and Punjab decided on the basis of a feasibility report prepared by the original builders -- the United Kingdom.
All the experts unanimously ruled out immediate structural threat to the Sukkur barrage that was completed in nine years’ record time (1923-1932) on the instructions of the then governor of Bombay Sir George Ambrose Lloyd.
The funds required for building a new barrage is estimated to be over Rs200 billion which is unavailable. Even if it is arranged by hook or by crook, the structure would hardly withstand the onslaught of seepage.
The cause of damage to the barrage is not that it has crossed an expiry date, as claimed by leader of the opposition. There have been many other factors, including indifference on the part of the authorities responsible for its maintenance, which has been mainly responsible for causing immense damage to it.
It may be recalled that huge iron doors of the barrage fell into the river about 25-30 years ago as they were completely rusted despite the fact that millions of rupees were shown on paper every year to have been spent on applying anti-rust paint on its iron doors.
I remember when the news of the ‘falling doors’ of Sukkur barrage appeared in the electronic and print media, the Britons offered to replace the damaged doors free of cost. They came to Pakistan and did an excellent job.
I earnestly request the chief minister of Sindh to entrust the rehabilitation work of the barrage to the UK. I am sure British engineers will do their best to carry out the repair work to their satisfaction and also to the satisfaction of the people of Pakistan, especially the tillers and farmers of Sindh.