PPP lawmakers come hard on irrigation, Sida officials over water crisis

July 08, 2019

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GROWERS protest over unavailability of water in Badin on Sunday.—Dawn
GROWERS protest over unavailability of water in Badin on Sunday.—Dawn

BADIN: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) lawmakers from Badin and the party’s local leadership have warned officials of irrigation department and Sida (Sindh Irrigation and Drainage Authority) to mend their ways or face the music, asking them to ensure a free distribution of water among all growers in the district.

Senator Dr Sinkander Ali Mandhro, MNA Mir Ghulam Ali Talpur, MPAs Mir Allah Bux Talpur, Taj Mohammad Mallah, Basheer Ahmed Halepoto, Haji Ramazan Chandio, Sain Bux Jamali and others held an hours-long meeting with CM’s Adviser Ashfaq Memon, Sida chairman Abdul Basit Soomro and local officials of Sida and irrigation department at the residence of MPA Mir Allah Bux Talpur in Rajo Khanani town on Saturday evening to discuss the persisting water crisis in the district.

They made it clear to the officials that no excuse with regard to a fair distribution or regulation of water would be tolerated any more.

Sources privy to the meeting said that the lawmakers and other PPP leaders at the meeting believed that the local officials were largely responsible for the mess that ultimately led to a sustained campaign launched by the Save Badin Action Committee amid the water crisis.

The lawmakers, according to the sources, told the officials that people of the district were now losing patience and it was becoming very difficult for local PPP leadership to handle the situation. The situation may get out of control if proper regulation of water flows was not ensured within the next few days, the lawmakers were quoted as telling the officials.

They also hinted at removal of the Sida director concerned over his unsatisfactory performance as well as appropriate action against certain other Sida and irrigation officials if the situation did not improve.

MNA Mir Ghulam Ali Khan Talpur told Dawn on Sunday that he asked the officials present at the meeting to either ensure provision of water to all areas of the district or risk their transfer to somewhere else. He said “we [PPP leaders] are supposed to address public issues; we all are of the same opinion that local irrigation and Sida officials be made to discharge their responsibilities efficiently and honestly”.

The MNA said he was in constant touch with the top party leadership as well as the relevant high-ups of the Sindh government in this regard. In consultation with them, honest and efficient officials could be brought in to overcome the crisis, he added.

Mr Talpur said that the matter of the Sida director’s transfer was under consideration. Three names for the slot had already been recommended to the competent authority, he added. He held out the assurance that growers of Badin would get relief from water crisis soon.

Earlier on Saturday, CM’s Adviser Ashfaq Memon spoke to the media at Alipur regulator near Matli town. He said effective measures were being taken to provide adequate water to growers across the district so that they could cultivate their chief crop of rice in this season. He pointed out that water losses right from Sukkur barrage to Kotri barrage was being reported.

According to him, ditches and other natural obstructions all along the wide bed of the Indus were a major factor contributing to the problem. “This issue could not be addressed unless there is a flow of over 100,000 cusecs from Sukkur barrage,” he added.

He said the officials concerned were also making efforts to curb water theft through illegally fixed pipes and other such means.He said they were trying to manage water distribution at each regulator of the district.

Protests over water crisis continue

Growers held demonstrations in Badin, Tando Bago, Kario Ghanwar, Khorwah, Kadhan and several other towns on Sunday to protest over persisting water crisis in the district. The strongly criticised local irrigation and Sida officials for their failure to address the issue and their indifferent attitude twoards their problem. They held corruption within the department and the institution responsible for their miseries.

They vowed to continue the series of protest, continuing for several months, till adequate water was supplied to them for the cultivation of their crops.

Published in Dawn, July 8th, 2019