SHC displeased at delay in action against illegal outlets from canals

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Court rejected the two dossiers which the Sindh irrigation secretary had submitted at the last hearing. — Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons/File
Court rejected the two dossiers which the Sindh irrigation secretary had submitted at the last hearing. — Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons/File

HYDERABAD: The Sindh High Court has voiced displeasure over the Sindh irrigation department’s slackness in taking action against illegal direct outlets drawing water from the irrigation canals.

The Hyderabad circuit bench, consisting of Justice Muhammad Shafi Siddiqui and Justice Muhammad Faisal Kamal Alam, during the hearing on Thursday noted that the ministry had failed to implement March 8, 2018, order of the SHC over the (same) matter. It rejected the two dossiers which the Sindh irrigation secretary had submitted at the last hearing.

“Under the law they (the irrigation officials) were required to submit (in the SHC) detailed list of the direct outlets on the main canals which are prohibited under the irrigation laws,” the court observed, referring to Section 5 of the Sindh Irrigation Act, 1879. “But they have made evasive replies since the orders were passed on March 6, 2018,” it added.

The court ordered the secretary irrigation to submit an affidavit disclosing the number of direct outlets in the province so that further action could be ordered.

Referring to the three identical petitions of Mazhar Ali, Ghulam Nabi Shah and Mumtaz Ali against the outlets and the water theft, the bench said those public interest litigations had been pending for long.

“... They (the petitions) require immediate attention to curtail and curb such exercise,” the bench stated. The SHC directed the secretary to submit the affidavit within 10 days before adjourning the hearing to Feb 25.

The petitioners earlier pointed out to the court that the Sindh government had also promulgated an ordinance in 1999 to declare some 107 direct outlets then existing in the province as illegal. They also pointed out the implementation of water rotation in the canals of Naseer division in violation of the law which had declared those canals perennial.

Govt ensures tail-end receives water, says minister Sindh Minister for Irrigation and Auqaf Sohail Anwar Siyal said in Tando Mohammad Khan after visiting sections of Phulelli Canal rehabilitated under Sindh Water Sector Improvement Project (WSIP) that the government was making every possible effort to supply water to tail-end areas.

He said that there were complaints about water shortage in tail-end areas owing to some technical problems in Akram Wah and the government would soon initiate work to address this issue with the financial help of the World Bank.

Sida chairman Abdul Basit Soomro said that water was reaching up to tail end after 30 years after rehabilitation works of Mithrao, Nara, Ghotki and Phulelli canals.

Published in Dawn, February 7th, 2020