HYDERABAD: The Sindh Chamber of Agriculture (SCA) has expressed its concern over an acute shortage of water in Sindh and urged government to declare the province ‘calamity-hit’. It rejected the water flows figures shared by Punjab and called for the installation of telemetry system at barrages to ascertain a true picture.
A meeting of SCA, held under the chairmanship of Miran Mohammad Shah on Sunday, also demanded that loans of small farmers having up to 16 acres be waived.
The meeting stressed that an inquiry should be conducted into a shortfall of 13,000 cusecs flows between Taunsa and Guddu.
It called for restraining Wapda from storing water in Tarbela Dam and immediate release of 125,000 cusecs to save crops in Sindh to some extent. It said water shortage at Kotri Barrage be ended and supplies be provided to Sindh in line with the 1991 Water Apportionment Accord 1991.
The SCA meeting noted that water shortage in Sindh’s barrages was recorded at 60pc which was affecting millions of acres of their command area. It urged the Federal Minister for Water Resources Syed Khursheed Shah to release 100,000 cusecs downstream Chashma and ensure storing of 5MAF (million acre feet) in both dams for next year’s Kharif sowing in Sindh.
It accused Punjab of committing robbery on Sindh’s water through the Chashma-Jhelum link canal. It said Wapda was primarily responsible for the water shortage. It said early Kharif sowing in Sindh begins on March 1 and it was the time when dams remained empty.
The SCA said that Wapda was using water for electricity generation which otherwise was meant for Sindh.
According to it, Wapda always brings Tarbela to dead level in January and February which affects water supply to Sindh and at that time temperature would not rise in Skardu thus this does not trigger snow melting. During this period, around 12,000 cusecs enter Tarbela Dam from Skardu and Kabul River flows are measured at 6,000 cusecs, totaling around 18,000-20,000 cusecs of flows in the system that appears insufficient.
It said that Wapda should not be allowed to use water flows for power generation in the next early Kharif season. It observed that at present, Nara and Rohri canals were being run under a rotation programme while Sukkur’s Rice and Dadu canals remained closed. It demanded an end to the rotation programme.
The SCA said that flows should be ensured at Kotri barrage so that rice crop could be cultivated in its command area. It also called for action against water thieves and posting of competent and honest officers to check the theft.
The meeting appreciated federal commerce ministry’s decision to allow export of mangoes from May 15 from Sindh.
The meeting was attended by Zahid Bhurgari, Nabi Bux Sathio, Mohammad Khan Sarejo, Nisar Memon, Mir Abdul Karim Talpur and others.
SUP slams PPP’s ‘criminal’ silence
Activists of Sindh United Party (SUP) staged a demonstration in protest against persisting water shortage in Sindh outside local press club on Sunday.
SUP leader Roshan Ali Buriro, who led the protest, said that the Pakistan Peoples Party was now part of ruling coalition in federal government still it was not able to get Sindh’s water share from Punjab.
He said that robbery over Indus river water and share of Sindh was being committed through Chashma-Jhelum link canal and Thal canal but the PPP government was criminally silent over it and its silence was tantamount to treachery with people of Sindh.
He held PPP government responsible for shortage of irrigation as well as drinking water and said that despite nagging water shortage in Sindh lands of feudal lords continued to receive water illegally through channels while the land of poor peasants and political opponents of PPP were deprived of even a drop of water on the pretext of shortage.
He said that 70pc of Sindh’s small cities and towns were waiting for supply of water. The PPP had been in power for 30 years yet it had not been able to provide even drinking water to the province, he said.
He said that welfare of Sindh people was not on the agenda of PPP. Fair distribution of water was not possible in the province because of massive corruption and bad governance, he said.
He said that PPP’s Sindh government had failed to represent the province’s case at all meetings on water distribution held at federal level. Khursheed Shah belonged to Sindh but he was defending Punjab in his capacity as federal minister for water resources instead of safeguarding Sindh’s rights, he said and demanded fair distribution of water.
Published in Dawn, May 16th, 2022