SUKKUR: Rice cultivation usually starts from May 1, with water being released from the Sukkur and Kotri barrages into canals that especially cater to rice farmers.
However, this year, the harvest has been delayed by almost a month because of a crippling shortage. The water level at the Kotri Barrage is 70 per cent below the normal mark and the shortfall at Guddu Barrage is around 60 per cent. Due to the dire shortage, no water can be released downstream Kotri. Parts of upper Sindh, including Shikarpur, Jacobabad and Larkana, form Pakistan’s biggest rice growing belt, which is spread over 22,000 acres.
The two canals that provide most of the water to rice growers are yet to receive their first drops of water, said Ghotki Abadgar general secretary, Ghulam Hassan Chachar. “Usually we get around 6,000 to 7,000 cusecs of water by May 1,” he said. “In fact, this is the minimum level of water we get and as the weeks go by, the level is increased further.” According to Chachar, he asked Irshad Memon, the Mirpur Mathelo irrigation executive engineer, about the water shortage, to which Memon replied that his orders came from the chief irrigation secretary.
Published in the Express Tribune, May 26th, 2010.