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Water expert appeals not to politicise debate over dam

Updated October 01, 2018

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A severely eroded embankment.—Dawn
A severely eroded embankment.—Dawn

THATTA: Renowned water expert Dr Hassan Abbas has said that if tackled wisely, water issue can become a uniting force instead of divisive factor it has nowadays become in Pakistan and appealed not to politicise the crucial issue.

Dr Abbas said after witnessing destruction of Indus delta during a day-long visit to Shah Bandar coastal area along with a team of concerned citizens including Dr Rana Shafiq, an agriculturist per excellence, and Nazeer Ghazi, head of an NGO, that one often heard nowadays debate for and against the dam and appealed that it was a very serious issue please in God’s name “don’t politicise it”.

He said that after heart-wrenching incident of Army Public School Peshawar, all political parties which were hitherto at each others’ necks, not only sat together but decided with consensus that it was very a serious matter and there should be no politics over it. “Similarly, water is also a very serious issue. There should be no politics over it,” he said.

If tackled wisely, water issue can become a uniting force instead of divisive factor

He offered his input in the dam debate raging in the country and said: “If we have to solve this problem, we will have to move from politics to science and knowledge to seek a solution. And the latest research says that there should be no hindrance in the flow of a river, so no need of dams and even barrages,” he said.

He said the world (west) had introduced revolutionary irrigation models like Riverine Bed Field which had made dams and barrages redundant for irrigation purposes. As far as electricity generation was concerned, it could be made through the use of solar technology, instead of chaining rivers, depriving lower riparians of their right to survival and turning delta which hosted rich biodiversity into a land of misery, he said.

He called for regenerating the Indus delta and river to reverse the process of sea intrusion and other environmental disasters caused by the hindrances erected to block the flow of the mighty river.

During the visit to Shah Bandar, Mr Abbas and his team witnessed the places which were once famous for rice production but had now been devoured by salty seawater.

The team also met representatives of affected fishermen and farmer communities who had become pauper and forced to live a nomadic life as their life was now marked by migrations after each decade or so. “Why Pakistan continues to lose to India in international arbitration over water sharing?” asked Dr Abbas.

“Because Islamabad is treating Sindh the way India is treating Pakistan. We (Islamabad) are depriving our lower riparian, Sindh, of its due and internationally recognised share of water. How can we stop India from doing the same to us?”

Published in Dawn, October 1st, 2018