Sudden collapse of Sukkur Barrage gate stuns irrigation minister, officials

Published June 22, 2024
THE arch that lost its gate (No.47) due to unknown reasons on Thursday night.—Dawn
THE arch that lost its gate (No.47) due to unknown reasons on Thursday night.—Dawn

SUKKUR: Sindh Irrigation Minister Jam Khan Shoro, Irrigation Secretary Zarif Khero, Sukkur Mayor Arslan Islam Shaikh and almost all senior officials concerned looked stunned upon coming to know that one gate of Sukkur Barrage collapsed and another one sustained heavy damage sometime during late Thursday evening.

No plausible reason could be given by any senior barrage official even after 24 hours of the incident as they were still groping in the dark after the unbelievable happening.

The Sukkur commissioner and deputy commissioner, as well as senior officials and engineers, had rushed to the Sukkur Barrage late Thursday night as soon as they were informed about the damage.

The minister, secretary and mayor also proceeded to the barrage on Friday to assess the situation. They were shown the gate number 44 that had sustained heavy damage. They were informed that gate number 47 had collapsed and plunged into deep water, hence was invisible.

A second gate also heavily damaged, cause of incident yet to be established

The barrage’s Superi-ntendent Engineer Fayyaz Shah, responding to media personnel’s queries, could only say that the gate No. 44 might have been damaged by “water pressure or something else”. His words made it clear that he was not sure about the possible reason. Similar was his view about the collapse and submerging of the gate No. 47 as he pretended that “it might have been hit by some huge thing like a big uprooted tree or trunk that supposedly passed through it [the gate] with floodwater”.

During the 2010 and 2011 super floods, Sukkur Barrage had withstood a discharge of about one million cusecs. None of its gates was damaged.

Indus River currently is in low flood and according to sources, the discharge upstream Sukkur Barrage is only 160,000 cusecs. The downstream discharge was recorded at 102,000 cusecs.

The water table shows that the gates were under no pressure of floodwater.

Sources observed that the current trend of rapidly rising water level in Indus was caused by the continuous melting of snow on mountains and heavy rains in the northern region. However, they pointed out, the flows at Guddu Barrage on Thursday stood at mere 140,000 cusecs upstream and 130,000 cusecs downstream.

Senior Sukkur Barrage officials briefed Jam Khan Shoro and Zarif Khero about the extent of the damage.

Later, Mr Shoro told media personnel that the repair work had since been started. He regretted that water supply to the Left Bank and Right Bank canals would have to be suspended temporarily to facilitate the repair work.

He explained that flows were being released downstream to ease water pressure and ensure safety of the barrage structure.

He said that measures were being taken to bring down the water level in order to facilitate replacement of one gate and repair of the damaged one.

He apologised to the general public, especially affected growers, for the inconvenience they were going to face due to the situation, and held out the assurance that the repair work would be completed as soon as possible.

A spokesman for Irrigation Minister Jam Khan Shoro has, meanwhile, said that due to the repair work, water supply to Nara, Rohri, Khairpur East, Khairpur West, Northern Dadu, Rice Canal, and NW Canal would remain suspended.

Published in Dawn, June 22nd, 2024

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