PFF rally demands ‘personhood’ status for River Indus

Published June 1, 2022
PFF activists dance in the street during the rally on Tuesday.—Online
PFF activists dance in the street during the rally on Tuesday.—Online

HYDERABAD: Leaders and activists of the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) took out a rally titled ‘Provincial water rights’ and staged a sit-in outside local press club on Tuesday.

The rally started from Shahbaz Building and ended outside the club.

Speaking to the participants, PFF chairman Mehran Ali Shah argued that rivers were given ‘personhood’ status in New Zealand and India, as such, Pakistan should also give the same right to Indus River. He said that the state should release 35MAF (million acre feet) water downstream Kotri Barrage to restore Indus River and delta.

He said the PFF would organise a multi-party conference to chalk out a joint action plan in order to press government for giving personhood status to the river and delta. He remarked that natural flows of Indus had been “imprisoned behind dams” which ultimately led to destruction of agriculture, mangroves and fisheries in Sindh.

Moves to build more dams over Indus opposed

Mr Shah said that it was due to the opening of flood canals and building of dams upstream Indus that such flows had been diverted. He observed that the river in Sindh had now become just a channel.

Interests of fishermen and farmers, whose livelihood was directly linked with Indus, had been undermined. People of Sindh would have to unite and raise their voice for the province’s water rights failing which entire Sindh would become barren, he said.

Yasmin Shah, Noor Mohammad, Ramzan Mallah and other PFF leaders speaking at the rally, also demanded personhood status for Indus. They said that Indus delta should be protected.

They opposed building of any dam upstream Indus. Lakes and other freshwater bodies should be provided supplies from Indus to protect livelihood of thousands of fishermen, they stressed, and called for adequate water supply to tail-end areas of Sindh.

They said that natural flows of Indus should be restored.

They also demanded desilting of irrigation channels to ensure water supply to all areas and action against those who had encroached upon the riverbed.

They called for removal of pumping machines, installed by unscrupulous landowners along canals’ banks to steal water.

Published in Dawn, June 1st, 2022

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