SUKKUR: The irrigation department has issued low-flood warning and declared emergency in all barrages in the province over expected rise in water level in the Indus River within next 24 hours, said the in-charge of control room at Sukkur Barrage, Abdul Aziz Soomro.

Mr Soomro told Dawn on Friday that leaves of staff had also been cancelled. The river level had risen rapidly in the wake of heavy rains in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab and it was expected the river would rise to 250,000 cusecs at Guddu Barrage within 24 hours, hence the declaration of low flood at the barrage, he said.

He said that if it continued to rain with the same degree then the department would have to revise the flood status upwards to middle level in the first week of August.

At present water level at Guddu Barrage upstream was recorded at 198,406 cusecs and 187,108 cusecs downstream, 146,890 cusecs at Sukkur Barrage upstream and 102,000 cusecs downstream while water level at Kotri Barrage upstream was recorded at 65,628 cusecs and downstream 51,738 cusecs, said the official.

In the wake of growing fears of flood, Sukkur district administration has decided in principle to evacuate all the people who have occupied embankments of Dadu, Rice and Khirthar canals, according to a meeting presided over by Sukkur Commissioner Mohammad Abbas Baloch.

The commissioner issued directives to the officials concerned to remove encroachments from both embankments of all three canals and immediately get at least 50 foot inspection path cleared.

He stressed that no leniency should be shown towards those who were responsible for creating law and order situation and cases should be registered against such people.

He said the elected public representatives and politicians had made promises with the occupants of embankments that they would be given compensation in lieu of the government land they had been occupying.

He asked the authorities of Sui Southern Gas Company and Sukkur Electric Power Company to immediately disconnect gas and electricity supply to the occupants and submit to him a list of such connections.

The official said that the operation earlier launched against the occupants ended up ineffective and inconclusive because it had been started without planning.

Now, the operation would be launched afresh after thorough planning.

He issued directives to police and Rangers to remove all illegal occupants at all costs and submit a report in this regard to the Sindh government.

The commissioner advised the superintending engineer of irrigation circle to build a metallic road on the inspection path after removal of occupants from canals’ embankments so that no one could reoccupy the canals in future.

He directed Sukkur New Taluka Assistant Commissioner Mohammad Yousuf Shaikh to make demarcations after completing survey of occupants and said that talks might also be held with the encroachers to avoid unnecessary resistance.

Officials concerned of police, Rangers, irrigation, revenue and other departments attended the meeting.

Published in Dawn, July 22nd, 2017