After five years of consistent protest, the farmers of over 200 villages of Sindh have complained to the Supreme Court Human Rights Cell that they faced severe shortage of water due to unlawful diversions made by influential landlords.
In their application, the farmers stated that certain influential people had taken direct connections from canals, causing severe shortage of irrigation and drinking water at the tail-end areas of district Badin.
The farmers claimed that violating the law, Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah, had allocated direct water connections to his favorite people.
The application alleged that the CM ordered 16 direct outlets only from Naseer canal. “Consequently, it has created a disastrous situation for growers, as well as the cattle,” the farmers said, praying that the SC take suo motu action and cancel all orders to make direct outlets as issued by Sindh CM.
At the moment, 11 minors and distributaries are facing critical water shortage at the tail end of Jarkas, Banghar, Khoski, Ayalpur, Bhago minor, Sanghi minor, Bsran II and Aliabad. As a result, 66,750 acres of agricultural land has turned into desert and nearly 90,000 people are deprived of drinking water and have been destroyed economically, reads the application.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Tariq Mahmood Arain, a farmer from Gambo area of Badin said people had started migrating from the area due to water shortage.
“Over 100,000 farmers have become victim of the ruling elite’s highhandedness,” he said, adding that since 2008, the farmers had been facing Rs1.25 billion annual losses due to scarcity of irrigation water.
Mahmood said last year they had held a hunger strike for 27 days in Malkani city and protested in different cities of Badin district on several occasions.
“We, the farmers, conducted 150 kilometre march from Malkani to Hyderabad but the government remained deaf and dumb,” he said.
Mahmood said, Sindh chief minister on May 4 visited them and directed the officers of Sindh Irrigation and Drainage Authority and Sindh Irrigation Department to ensure proper supply of irrigation water to tail-end area of district Badin within 3 to 4 days. “But nothing happened afterwards,” he added.
The farmers’ list shows that Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon, Imdad Pitafi, Ali Hassan Zardari, MPA Mir Hayat Talpur and Mujeeb Pirzada are among the prominent personalities who diverted water in violation of Irrigation Act 1932 and Sindh Assembly’s 1974 resolution which says no direct outlet will be allowed, if it affects the water supply to tail-end users.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 4th, 2013.