Bilawal may lead sit-in if link canals not closed, warn ministers

Published May 16, 2021
IRRIGATION Minister Sohail Siyal and Information Minister Syed Nasir Shah speak to the media at Sukkur Barrage on Saturday.—PPI
IRRIGATION Minister Sohail Siyal and Information Minister Syed Nasir Shah speak to the media at Sukkur Barrage on Saturday.—PPI

SUKKUR: Growers of Sindh and Pakistan Peoples Party workers will hold a sit-in under the leadership of party chairman Bilawal-Bhutto Zardari along the Sindh-Punjab border to seal it, if “theft” of Sindh’s water is not stopped.

This was announced by Irrigation Minister Sohail Anwar Siyal while addressing a press conference along with Information Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah during a visit to Sukkur Barrage on Saturday.

Strongly criticising Punjab for opening link canals and thus causing an acute shortage of irrigation water in Sindh, Mr Siyal said the ruling party would also move a resolution over this constant “theft” of Sindh’s water.

Mr Siyal and Mr Shah said Punjab was taking away Sindh’s share in water by opening the Chashma-Jhelum and Taunsa-Punjnad link canals and despite repeatedly objecting to it, the canals were not being closed. They said the centre and Punjab had also launched a five-megawatt power generation scheme on the canals due to which Sindh was not receiving its share in water.

They said a resolution would be tabled in the assembly during its next session.

“Sindh is facing up to 50pc shortage of water,” they said, adding that a 20pc shortage was being registered at the Sukkur Barrage and 44pc at Kotri Barrage.

“We do not only talk of Sindh’s rights, but also the rights of all federating units,” he said. He deplored that the centre was taking measures that were bound to render Sindh’s lands barren.

Mr Siyal said that people of the areas away from Kotri, especially Hyderabad and Karachi, were facing an acute shortage of drinking water.

He said Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah took up the matter at a meeting of the Council of Common Interests (CCI) “but the incompetent [federal] government is not taking any notice of it”.

He said that despite the prevailing water crisis, Sindh was providing water to Balochistan as per its due share from Guddu Barrage.

Nasir Shah said excesses to Sindh were being done to the extent that the province’s representative on the Taunsa-Panjad had been removed. “We cannot keep silent regarding such excesses,” he said.

The minister also criticised Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf allies Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) and Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) for not raising their voice for Sindh’s rights. “They (MQM-P) always claimed to be owners of Karachi but today, when this metropolis is facing a water crisis, they are keeping mum,” he said. Similarly, he said, the GDA would issue statements every now and then on various issues but it was also not uttering a single word over “theft” of Sindh’s water.

They pointed out that the Pakistan Peoples Party came up with a clear stance on the Kashmir and Palestine issues but was itself facing deplorable treatment on the part of centre over the issue of water.

Anwar Siyal and Nasir Shah said that the federal government’s inefficiency was causing great damage to the agriculture sector, besides the national economy.

In reply to a question, Mr Siyal said that no lands along Indus River’s embankments had been encroached upon whereas all encroached upon lands of the forest department had now been retrieved.

Earlier, chief engineers of Sukkur and Guddu barrages gave the ministers a detailed briefing on the current position of water flows in the Indus and irrigation network.

Published in Dawn, May 16th, 2021

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