Restoration of Manchar Lake demanded

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Our Correspondent March 23, 2018
PHOTO: FILE

HYDERABAD: Marking World Water Day speakers at a seminar in Hyderabad called for urgent measures to restore Pakistan's largest fresh water lake, Manchar Lake.

The experts demanded that the around two decades old Right Bank Outfall Drain (RBOD) project, which will carry thousands of cusecs of saline water from Balochistan and upper Sindh to the sea, should be completed without delay.

The event was organised by the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) - Pakistan, Friends of Indus Forum (FIF) and Centre for Environment and Development (CEAD) on Thursday.

Prof Dr Sarfraz Solangi, pro vice-chancellor of Sindh University's Thatta campus, which has a teaching department for coastal and delta studies, said the lake had a glorious past and rich biodiversity. He lamented that the communities dwelling around the lake in Jamshoro district and in the Indus River's delta in Sujawal are equally affected.

The former's fresh water has been contaminated by saline water channeled to the lake through the Main Nara Valley drain and the latter's by the sea intrusion due to a massive reduction of discharge of Indus River's water downstream in the sea.

FIF's Nasir Ali Panhwar said the lake, which stretches to around 200 square kilometres, used to be a rich source of fisheries before its pollution began more than two decades ago. He said the lake provided livelihood to tens of thousands of households in its surrounding and that it also had around 2,000 residential boats.

SC defines measures for alleviating contamination of Manchar Lake

"The lake could have also contributed a lot in boosting the tourism industry if its beautification could have been properly maintained."

Dr Uzma Imran, an assistant professor at the US-Pakistan Centre for Advanced Studies in Water, shared her research which studied the level of pollution, socio-economic condition of the local people and migration. According to her, the local fishing communities have suffered a steep slump in their incomes.

"A large part of the population has migrated to find work in other places in Sindh," she said. She also raised alarm over the contaminated drinking water and its adverse health effects on the people living around the lake.

Mustafa Mirani, a representative of the Manchar community, said even if the RBOD is completed in time, the lake's rehabilitation will become difficult if a new water source is not legally approved. He said that a storage reservoir has been built on the lake's major source, the Gajj stream.

"Although there are small rain-fed streams which end up in the lake, the government will have to legally approve sanction of water share for Manchar from the Indus River," he suggested.

Dr Yar Muhammad Khuhawar from Sindh University, Sajid Ali Bhutto of the irrigation department, Pervez Khuawar of the fisheries department and other stakeholders also spoke.

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