LARKANA: A large number of growers and small landholders took to the streets and staged a sit-in in Shahdadkot town to protest against release of highly contaminated stagnant rainwater into Khirthar Canal and Saifullah Magsi branch, which, they feared, would damage beyond repair the few acres of farmland saved from floodwaters.

Qambar-Shahdadkot district president of Sindh Abadgar Board (SAB) Abdul Khalique Khoso and Joint Action Committee (JAC) leaders Wahab Pandrani, Khalid Umar Khoso and others said while speaking to participants in the sit-in at Kotoo-Motoo chowk that irrigation department officials were releasing the highly toxic rainwater into the two canals through big pumping machines.

The stagnant rainwater on the right side of Khirthar Canal was now being lifted and diverted through pumping stations in Garhi Yasin and released into the canal, they said.

They said that stagnant rainwater being lifted from Ratodero branch was being released into North Western Canal. The strategy was quite uncalled for and very harmful for the crops, they said, adding at present both the canals were flowing to their maximum capacity.

They said the water in the canals was highly contaminated and posed a serious threat to farmland’s fertility that had already been adversely affected by months of heavy rains. “We badly need irrigation water to cultivate whatever portions of land have been saved from devastating floods but the irrigation officials are bent upon releasing toxic stagnant rainwater into both the irrigation arteries,” they complained.

They said that if the practice continued, growers and other people linked to farm sector would face colossal losses. At certain points the Saifullah Magsi branch was overtopping its banks and causing severe damage to the patches of farmland, which had remained unviolated by floodwaters, they said.

They called for undertaking a transparent survey of the damaged land and houses so that genuine victims of the calamity could be compensated for their losses.

The government should accelerate the process of providing seed and fertiliser to growers so that maximum efforts could be put in to cultivate crops, they said.

Published in Dawn, November 9th, 2022

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