IT is almost mid-June, the entire rice-growing area, that is the right side of the Indus, is dying of thirst. The gates of the Rice Canal feeding this area was supposed to have delivered water to paddy farmers in the beginning of May but has not been opened as yet for reasons best known to provincial irrigation authorities.

Needless to say that the role of the irrigation department has always been stepmotherly towards the Rice Canal, the only non-perennial inland waterway meant for paddy-growing areas and which legally has to flow from May 15 to Nov 15. Not realising that scarcity of water at this important juncture of the sowing season would cause irreparable damage to millions of people living in the rural area of Sindh whose staple diet is rice bread.

The irrigation people know that the season for sowing rice seedling has begun whereas the availability of water is already late almost by one month. They also know that any further delay in providing water would make the crop prone to assault by different insects and pests.

Thus, in order to save the rice crop from further devastation, water must be released immediately and must flow unhindered till November.

I appeal to the chief minister, as well as to irrigation wizards to do justice to the millions of people living in the rice-growing area and allow water in the Rice Canal without further loss of time and save them from lurking manmade famine.

ZAHID HUSSAIN JATOI Betto, Dadu

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