MUZAFFARGARH: Fields and houses in about a dozen villages of Jatoi tehsil are being slowly eroded by the river Indus. The erosion has taken the heaviest toll on the villages of Baitwala and Cheenwala near Head Bakaini.

Dawn visited the villages and saw people evacuating with their household items to the safer places.

Khadim Hussain Chandia, a schoolteacher, said the erosion which started a month back had eaten away 200 houses which were earlier half a kilometer away from the river. He said the villagers themselves could not do anything to control the mighty river. The executive engineer of irrigation and the superintendent engineer had been informed about the situation but no response came from them.

Allah Dewaya said there were 100 houses in Cheenwala but now only a dozen of them had been left while others had been eroded by the river. The remaining houses were not safe, he said, adding that irrigation officials had turned a blind eye to the situation.

Ghulam Fareed, a resident of Baitwala, said whenever floods affected the village the government and non-government organisations (NGOs) compensated those affected but in erosion there was no help expected from any side.

Some women said they had started some business of poultry with the donations they had got after 2010 flood but the river erosion had swept away their business.

The residents of the villages demanded the government to build two spurs along the river. They said that the erosion happened due to the absence of spurs on the eastern side of the river.

They blamed local politicians for not allowing the irrigation officials to build spurs there. They demanded Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to take notice of the situation.

Talking to Dawn, irrigation executive engineer Chaudhry Zahid said the area was in the Dera Ghazi Khan district and he was helpless while Dera Ghazi Khan irrigation chief engineer Chaudhry Abdul Hameed said erosion could not be controlled.

Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2016