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Indus delta: saving Ramsar site

September 08, 2012

THE Indus delta is already internationally recognised as a ‘Ramsar site’. It is the duty of the government to protect it on a priority basis.

Unfortunately, the government is showing utter negligence towards it and is unable to take effective measures to protect it.

As matter of fact, there are 74 deltas throughout the world. Limited water is being released as a practice to check the sea intrusion as envisaged in the Water Accord 1991. Nonetheless, a small but powerful lobby which apparently has the support of Wapda, Punjab government and bureaucrats belonging to the Punjab province working in various departments of the federal governments at Islamabad like ministry of power and water, Planning Commission of Pakistan, ministry of finance, etc., are directly or indirectly victimising Sindh and so about the Indus delta.

The ruination of the Indus delta has resulted in: 1) mass migration of people, 2) increasing level of poverty, 3) sea intrusion inundating 2.7 million acres of land in Thatta and Badin districts, 4) leaving 2.6 million people to die in hunger and thirst living in an area stretching from Kotri to Arabian Sea in Sindh, 5) emerging environmental tragedy in the Indus delta.

Punjab is opposing the release of water downstream Kotri though all the parties had already agreed in the Water Accord 1991 for the release of limited water downstream Kotri but Punjab is not allowing to implement it as Gen (Rtd) Musharraf had also announced publicly.

There is no justification in saying that water is not available in the system for release for the Indus delta. This is not acceptable as the Water Accord 1991 was signed in 1991 whereas Irsa, responsible for distribution and regulating water, came into being later.

The release of water is mandatory in order to save the Indus delta and the lives of 2.6 million people.

I appeal to the members of the Ramsar site to come forward and play their role in saving the Ramsar site like the Indus delta by immediately releasing limited water as envisaged in the Water Accord 1991.

M. KHAN SIAL Karachi