MUZAFFARGARH: Drought has hit hard the wheat crop as the Indus River is witnessing the just 23,000 cusec flow through the Taunsa Barrage and because of the sever shortage of water, four canals have been closed for the last four months.

Taunsa Barrage Irrigation Executive Engineer (EXEN) Faisal Mushtaq said that canals would open on April 15, only if the water would be available in the river. He said that on Thursday he had received direction from the Indus River System Authority that the share of Punjab was 12 percent, and of that, he had released 1,800 water into the TP Link Canal.

Another irrigation official said the poor flow in the water was due to the flawed policies of the National Disaster Management Authority, which did not work on enhancing the storage capacity of dams. He said dams were primarily constructed for irrigation, not for flood control.

The EXEN said due to the low flow season, they had no water for irrigation for the standing wheat crop. He explained that the drought situation had arisen from less rainfall in the catchment area from December to March and poor snow melting rate poor because of low temperatures. He said the drought would result in less wheat yield and delayed cotton sowing season.

An agriculture official told Dawn that 800,000 acres was irrigated by the Muzaffargarh canal alone.

Agriculture officials said that due to the low seepage, the quality of groundwater in Alipur and Seetpur also had been affected. The water drawn from tubewells was not fit for crop irrigation and human consumption.

The shortage of water has started alarm bells ringing for farmers who had earlier suffered losses from low prices of sugarcane crops and delayed payments from sugar mills. This time, 400,000 acres of sugarcane were cultivated in the district. Agriculture officials said now farmers had stopped cultivating sugarcane on 100,000 acres, and they would turn to the cotton crop.

CASE: A case was registered against four people who tortured a teacher in Shahr Sultan on Thursday.

The incident took place when a student of the Government Primary School, Shehr Sultan, complained to his parents and uncles that his teacher Naveed Shehzad had beaten him. The parents with some relatives arrived in the school and beat him fracturing his legs.

The school headmaster also suffered injuries when intervened and tried to rescue the teacher.

Police public relation officer Waseem Baloch said a case had been registered against Moon, Waseem Akram, Zaheeruddin and Babur with Shehr Sultan police station.

Deputy Commissioner Saif Anwar Jappa asked Jatoi Assistant Commissioner Aurangzaib to probe into the matter. Sources said the child was a bully boy in the class.

Published in Dawn, March 23rd, 2018