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Delayed, erratic rains threaten Thar with drought

By Hanif Samoon 2018-08-14
MITHI: The danger of severe drought has started to loom in the vast rain-dependent region of Thar due to delayed and erratic monsoon rains.

Some parts of the entire raindependent arid zone of the country have so far received nearly 25mm rainfall on an average during the light spells in the last week of June and early days of July.

Traditional crops, sown in some parts of the district, have already started to wither away due to no rainfall. People, who had returned to their homes with their livestock from the barrage areas in the hope of more rainfall in the forthcoming weeks, have got dejected and started to go back again to the barrage areas of Badin, Umerkot, Mirpurkhas and other neighbouring districts with their livestock.

It has been a practice in the Thar region since colonial rule to declare the desert region as drought-hit if it does not receive sufficient rainfall by the end of the second or third weel( of August.

Dr Allah Nawaz Samoo, head of a development NGO, who is himself a Thari from a village in Nagarparkar taluka, was of the view that the monsoon rainfall in Thar had so far been too little and too late. `Only 40 per cent of the area has received mild and scat-tered showers of below 30mm,` he said, adding that there were three major implications of not having enough rain until the end of July: 1) Shortage of water in wells as most of Thar depends on water aquifers replenishing through monsoon rains; 2) lack of fodder for livestock, especially causing substantial loss to those who werefattening animals for sale in Eid marl(et; 3) poor communities have started getting loans to meet household expenditures.

Dr Samoo deplored that situation in the hilly areas was getting worse with each passing day as not only the dams but the wells had dried up.

When contacted, Shaikh DrTanweer Ahmed, head of an NGO involved in health, told this reporter that the situation in Thar might turn more alarming, even worse than the previous years, if it did not rain in the next few weeks.

`There is need that all stockholders should sit together and devise strategies to combat drought in the area,` he added andurged the incoming Sindh government to fulfil its commitment and promises with the Tharis during their election drive.

Fearing human crises as well as breakout of diseases among livestock in the coming days, he said there was already grave malnutrition issue, which had caused death of hundreds of infants and pregnant women.

Bharumal Amrani, a local environmentalist and writer, said that due to climate change, Thar after the moderate showers remained under cloudy weather and temperatures could not rise, hampering germination and growth of the fodder and crops badly.

If Thar got rains during the remaining weeks of the monsoon season, people would not be able to cultivate crops as the season was almost over now, he said.

Mr Amrani demanded the functionaries concerned as well as heads of NGOs to step up and do something for Tharis before the situation takes an ugly turn in the wake of feared severe drought.

Local PPP leader and rights activist advocate Veerji Kolhi from Nagarparkar area has also demanded the Sindh government to declare Thar as drought-hit and start relief operation there.

He said that due to the delayed rains in Thar and Parkar regions, inhabitants were in deep trouble to get water and fodder for their animals.