KARACHI: Sindh Irrigation Secretary Babar Effendi has assured small growers in Indus delta of releasing their water share soon and issued directives to the chief engineer to look into the matter of canal water closure immediately.
He took this initiative during a meeting with group of growers from Kharo Chhan and Keti Bunder, Thatta district, led by Mohammed Ali Shah, Chairperson Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF), who called on him at his office to plead their case of water canal closure and the crop loss on Wednesday evening.
After listening to the grievances of the farmers, he assured them of visiting the area soon, see the problem and meet the community people. He said had he been informed earlier, he could have protected their seasonal crops, which the farmers failed to cultivate due to water shortage.
Earlier, growers conveyed him the problem of persistent water shortage created by certain powerful landlords that caused problems to hundreds of farmers, herders and fishermen families.
At least 500 small growers gathered at a coastal village of Thare Wari three days earlier to discuss the crisis of irrigation water shortage and closure of canals by certain influential landlords that deprived the tail enders of their share. The growers decided to launch effective campaign. The meeting with irrigation secretary was the first step, which has given a hope to the deprived farmers to receive their water share and restoration of tributaries and watercourses.
Growers said their crops standing on hundreds of acres of land had been perished due to unavailability of water.
The small growers, possessing 20 to 200 acres of family land, alleged that certain landlords had started exploitation through stopping their water. Only Indo Tributary, out of eight major canals, has 214 watercourses and 42 water lifting machines, mostly benefitting upstream growers and depriving tail-enders of their water share.
However, the irrigation secretary gave a hope to the affected farmers of getting their water share. He assured them of restoration of watercourses, saying nobody would be allowed to deprive the poor of their water share.
During the meeting with secretary irrigation, he was also informed about the fresh water lakes, including Manchhar and Keenjhar, which were losing their historical status. The secretary said he would also take up the matter with relevant officials to resolve the issue of those lakes. He said the issue of Danistar Wah, the main source of feeding the fresh water Manchhar Lake through River Indus during the monsoons, would be resolved soon.
Kharo Chhan and Keti Bunder are known traditionally the prosperous port towns long ago. The area elders still share their prosperity and happy days they had experienced when there was more water, fertile lands, crop productions, fish and livestock. But after changes that took place due to weather pattern change, the people are facing hardships, sometimes even they do not have two meals a day for their children.