Thursday, February 11, 2010

Water shortage hits wheat crops in lower Sindh

by Sarfraz Ali

Wheat and other cultivated crops are devastating particularly in tail-end districts Mirpurkhas, Umerkot and Tharparkar in lower Sindh owing to acute shortage of irrigation water in Nara canal.

Chairman Farmer Organisation (FOC) Javed Ahmed Junejo, deplored that recently 25,000 cusec water was increased in Sindh River following rainfall in Punjab and other provinces but unfortunately irrigation authorities of Punjab has diverted the water flow towards Taunsa Bairaj to store the water.

As result, in Sukkur Bairaj water level has been decreased as from 18,000 cusec to 15,000 cusecs automatically irrigation authorities supplying the water discharge only 6,000 cusec in Nara Canal head against its requirements of 18,000 cusec water discharge, the FOC chairman explained.

He lamented that drought like situation has been created in the tail-end districts of Nara canal as due to stealing of water from Nara Canal through illegal 400 lift machines and tempered modules of canals and distributaries only water for drinking purpose is being supplied in minors, distributaries.

The chief urged the federal government to ensue releasing of more than water in Sindh River instead to store the water in Taunsa Bairaj to save the wheat and other crops of Sindh.

The chairman said that landlords and abadgars (small farmers) were suffering big losses as their investments in agriculture sector was in risk and depending now only on irrigation water that is not available in the canals.

He further said that 6,000 cusec water discharge is only for drinking purpose and at this time there is acute need of water for wheat and other crops in this region and added that wheat and other crops were already deprived of irrigation for last 50 days as the Nara canal was closed for annual desalting and repair purpose.

He demanded the President Asif Zardari and Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani to take immediately notice of acute shortage of water particularly in lower Sindh and ensure proper supply of water in River Indus and in Nara canal to save the cultivated wheat and other crops.

The score of farmers belonging to Girhor distributary fed by Thar canal have held protest demonstration outside the Thar division office to protest against acute shortage of water in their distributaries for last over two months.
Haji Noor Mohammad, Mohammad Khan Mari, Ayub Mari and others deplored that Girhor distributary have closed on December 22, 2009 under rotation programme and still no drop of water was yet released in it as result wheat and other crops were destroying while drinking water is not available in their surrounding areas and they were compelled to bring the drinking water from far flung areas.

They accused that XEN Thar division and SDO concerned are openly demanding the illegal gratification from landlords for supplying the water and also asking that they have to pay commission to ministers.

They demanded of the Sindh Chief Minister and Governor Sindh to take immediate notice and ensure supply of irrigation water in their Girhor distributary without any delay.

The agricultural experts emphasised that wheat sowing had also been hit by irrigation water shortage in Sindh. Farmers claim that they have cultivated only 55-60 per cent of the targeted area.

In flagrant violation of the Water Accord ’91, Punjab is stealing some 6,000 cusecs additional water from River Indus at the cost of Sindh, alleged Sindh Agriculture Chamber’s general secretary, Akhund Ghulam Mohammad.

“Chief Minister of Sindh and provincial irrigation minister should take serious notice and raise the issue with the Council of Common Interest (CCI),” he suggested.

This news article is also appeared in 'Daily The Nation'

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