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Stakeholders stress free flow of Indus

Dawn Report 2018-03-23
MIRPURKHAS: Stakeholders of Sindh`s water bodies called for proper maintenance of the irrigation system, due attention be paid to the agriculture sector and equitable distribution of water to each and every part of Sindh.

They opposed construction of dams over the Indus so that the river could flow through its natural course to the benefit of all its beneficiaries till the tail-end areas of the province.

They were speaking at a ceremony held at the Sindh Agriculture Research Institute to inaugurate the `First Water Expo 2018` that got under way at the Sindh Horticulture Research Institute here on Thursday as one of the major events held in Sindh to mark World Water Day.

Several hundred people including experts ofrelevant Helds,academia, senior executives of various banks as well as private companies dealing in water supplies and agricultural inputs, besides agriculturalists and peasants visited the expo.

The event was jointly organised by the Research Development Foundation (RDF), Sindh Agriculture University (SAU), Mehran University of Engineering and Technology (MUET), Sindh Irrigation and Drainage Authority (SIDA), Laar Humanitarian Development Programme (LHDP) and Mirpurkhas district administra-tion in collaboration with Trocair Pakistan.

Inaugurating the expo, MNA Mir Munawwar Ali Khan Talpur advocated free flow of Indus water through its natural course. He pointed out that certain people had encroached upon storm-water drains like Dhoro Puran that hindered flood water flow towards the Rann of Kutch. He said he personally looked into the matter and ordered demolition of all illegally raised structures.Such structures were also responsible for losses during floods as was witnessed in 2011, he said.

`Natural rivers are assets which should be maintained by the authorities concerned,` the MNA said, and stressed on keeping all irrigation channels protected from industrial and municipal waste.

Sindh Abadgar Board vice chairman Mahmood Nawaz Shah quoted an established fact that 70 per cent of water in world was used for farming to produce food for human beings. `Pakistan, especially Sindh, should realise that scarcity of water has become a big challenge while the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) had warned that water availability to produce food for the huge world population by 2050-60 might be the most difficult task to ensure.

This challenge should be taken seriously by all stakeholders in Sindh as well, he added.

He said that apart from building dams, there were many other factors linked to water scarcity. `Onemajor factor is that Indus does not have adequate water to reach its ultimate end, the Indus delta,` he said.

Prof Mohammed Ismail Kumbhar of the Sindh Agriculture University (Tandojam) observed that Mirpurkhas had become prone to disaster because of being located near artificial drainage network.

`People have paid more cost of the neglect committed by government while the federal government was violating the 1991 Water Accord and imposing a ban on flowing water downstream Kotri which deprives the delta and local communities of their share in water.

RDF executive director Ashfaq Soomro, LHDP chief executive Iqbal Hyder, SIDA General Manager (Operations) Nazir Essani, Nara Canal Area Water Board chairman Mir Tariq Talpur, renowned water expert Ghulam Mustafa Ujjan, Ishrat Jabeen of Trocair and Mirpurkhas Deputy Commissioner Zahid Hussain Memon also spoke.

They said it was the first of its kind expo in Sindh where trade and industry, government departments and NGOs were participating to guide farmers coming from all parts of Sindh about getting high yield and availing the facilities offered by government, banks, ñnancial institutions and other stakeholders.

Besides RDF, all partner organisations, including banks, private companies, water forums and farmer organisations have set upstalls at the expo.

HYDERABAD: Pleading for ecologically innovative solutions to address degradation of Manchhar Lake, water and environment experts said the lake was nature`s gift to the country and carried great ecological, cultural and socioeconomic value, therefore it needed to be preserved and protected on priority.

Nature-based innovative solutions could help address problems of the lake, they said, adding that over the past two decades, freshwater inflow to the lake declined significantly relative to the saline and toxic effluent discharged into it.

They were addressing a seminar titled `Restoration of Manchhar Lake: Challenges and Opportunities`held at theSindhiLanguage Authority (SLA) here on Thursday.

It was organised by the World Wide Fund for Nature-Pakistan (WWF-P) in collaboration with the Friends of Indus Forum and Centre for Environment and Development (CEAD) to mark the World Water Day.

The speakers stressed that for maintaining healthy ecological balance, a regular supply of freshwater from the Indus and elsewhere should be maintained to Manchhar Lake. They urged that a detailed and multisectoral survey of the area, focusing on the ecological aspects of restoration, should be conducted to assess problems affecting the area and its residents. The results of this survey should be used to establishpriority actions to rehabilitate Manchhar Lake and revitalise its benefits for resident communities.

WWF-P regional head (Sindh and Balochistan) Dr Babar Khan said Sindh and Balochistan were facing an acute water shortage alongside serious water quality deterioration issues.

WWF-P technical adviser for fisheries Muhammad Moazzam Khan said Manchhar Lake had been known for diverse fish species which declined due to pollution and other related problems.

Environment expert Nasir Ali Panhwar said the lake was once a rich source of fisheries, and provided livelihood to over 10,000 households of fisherfolk living on 2,000 residential boats.

University of Sindh Thatta campus pro-vice chancellor Dr Sarfaraz Solangi said Manchhar Lake had a glorious past and rich biodiversity. He said the academia could play a vital role in restoration and management of freshwater ecosystems such as Manchhar Lake.

Mehran University of Engineering and Technology (MUET) US-Pakistan Centre for Advanced Studies in Water Assistant Professor Dr Uzma Imran shared findings of the research which indicated that Manchhar Lake had become highly polluted. Her study also included a socio-economic survey of the lake which confirmed a significant decline in the earning of fishermen communities from the lake and prevalence of water-borne diseases.