BADIN: Save Badin Action Committee has decided to nominate officials of World Bank in their petition being heard in Sindh High Court’s Hyderabad circuit bench against the construction of blockages in canals to divert water flows.

The committee leaders Mir Noor Ahmed Talpur, Khalil Ahmed Bhurgari, Azizullah Dero and others who led protests against persistent water shortage in Badin district and continued existence of blockages in canals on Monday said that Sindh government’s failure to fulfil its pledges with farmers had forced them to resume the agitation.

Farmers and peasants gathered outside press clubs in Tando Bago, Pangrio, Kadhan, Khoski, and other towns of the district to mark resumption of the protest drive.

The leaders said that they requested World Bank representatives to stop lending money to Sindh government for “anti-people projects” and meet famers’ representatives on their next visit of Sindh to get first-hand knowledge of the consequences of the bank-funded water projects.

They reiterated that Sindh Irrigation and Drainage Authority (Sida) had erected the blockages with the bank’s money to divert water flows towards the lands that fell within command area of Sukkur Barrage. The farmers would continue peaceful protest till the blockages were razed, they warned.

They asked Badin lawmakers to clarify their position with regard to farmers’ peaceful protest for the right and demanded immediate removal of Sida officials including its director Mir Ghulam Ali Talpur.

They asked officials of irrigation and Sida to clarify their position on some advertisements that appeared in a section of print media on Monday in which builders claimed to supply water to their housing scheme from Akram Wah at a time when the canal ran short of water due to a number of reasons.

They said that almost entire district would not get its due share of water as long as the blockages existed in Phuleli Canal at three points. They would chase Sida and irrigation officials in every public gathering the departments held even though they were not invited to register their protest peacefully, they said.

They said that instead of wasting their time in public gatherings the officials should sit with the farmers and listen to their woes. Sadly, a number of tail-end areas and coastal belt were facing the worst water crisis these days, they said and demanded that water be provided to the areas where wheat crop was yet to mature.

They asked officials concerned to ensure that the canals fed by Kotri Barrage received water as per their sanctioned allocation during ongoing season and urged Sida officials to first launch operation against thieves who stole water at areas ahead of Alipur regulator because most of the theft took place before the regulator near Matli town.

They warned that they would resist any move to launch crackdown in areas post-Alipur and would fully cooperate if the action was started in the areas along heads of left bank canals of Kotri Barrage.

They alleged that under a conspiracy the officials concerned had already tampered with bed level of Gooni Canal, an offshoot of Phuleli Canal.

“The bed level of Gooni that was meant to irrigate around 300,000 acres had been lowered more than that of Phuleli which irrigated around 700,000 acres across the district. The tampering is aimed at creating rifts among farmers and peasants of Badin district”, they said.

They demanded that audit of huge funds of Sida and irrigation department from 2006 to 2019 be carried out through third party so that it could be ascertained how much public funds meant for the improvement of irrigation system had actually been spent by officials over the past many years.

Published in Dawn, February 25th, 2020