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MITHI: Reminding Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah of his promise, people of Thar desert living in three union councils (UCs) have asked the CM to order the functionaries concerned to provide water in Rann minor off-taking from Jumrrayo Canal.

Talking to Dawn, people of the UCs — including Bhittaro, Kaloi and Mohrano — deplored that water in the lined Rann minor had not been provided for the past many years due to which over 50,000 acres of fertile land had turned barren, forcing landowners and farmers to migrate to other areas in search of livelihood.

They were of the view that the PPP government ‘punished’ its own voters who lived in the areas where anti-PPP people like the Arbab family lived.

They said the area right from Naukot town to the village of Dodo Jat in Kaloi taluka had turned into desert due to unavailability of irrigation water in the only irrigation outlet of Tharparkar district.

They said that soon after taking oath, Murad Ali Shah promised to ensure availability of water in the outlet for both irrigation and drinking purposes “but his promise is yet to be materialised”.

“On one hand the PPP government is spending millions of rupees on reverse osmosis (RO) plants and other projects to provide water in Thar while on the other irrigation officials had stopped water to a vast area,” said Arbab Lutfullah, a leader of the Arbab group.

He said that not only had their fertile lands turned barren but thousands of acres of poor farmers’ land had also been devastated due to man-made drought.

He said that when their irrigation channel used to get water as per designed capacity, the irrigated areas were providing food and fodder to inhabitants and their animals of Thar desert during droughts.

“Finding no other option, small growers and farmers are forced to pump out water from the Left Bank Outfall Drain (LBOD), which has not only increased salinity and water-logging in the area, but dykes of the drain are also getting weak at various points,” added a local farmer, Wali Nohrio.

Mr Nohrio shared that the practice of getting water from the LBOD for cultivation of crops had brought about a massive disaster in 2011 when the LBOD had developed breaches.

Another farmer, Hafeez, said irrigation officials were reluctant to release water down in the channel from the regulator at Naukot town. He lamented that their area, which was once famous for orchards and farmlands, had turned into ruins due to the terrible artificial water crises for some years.

Ahmed Dal, Chaudhry Suhail Ahmed, Raffique Ahmed Nohrio and other growers made fervent appeals to the high-ups to take notice of their plight.

Published in Dawn February 2nd, 2017