KARACHI: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has expressed serious concern over the accelerated rate of sea intrusion in Thatta and Badin districts.
According to research, 2.4 million acres of the Indus delta has been invaded by the sea and it is feared that if the present rate of sea erosion continues, the whole of Shah Bunder tehsil will vanish by 2035 and the sea will reach Thatta city by 2050.
The PPP chairperson pointed out that the Water Apportionment Accord signed by all the provinces in 1991 recognised the need for the flow of a sufficient quantity of water downstream of Kotri to deal with sea erosion. He criticised the Indus River System Authority (Irsa) for not implementing the accord, due to which the sea continued to devour coastal villages and fertile land of Sindh. Irsa did not ensure that a sufficient quantity of water flowed downstream of Kotri, Bilawal said.
Under the 1991 accord, it was temporarily agreed that 10 million acre feet (MAF) of water would be allowed to flow downstream of Kotri every year. Bilawal alleged that authorities were making wrong claims that 35 MAF was flowing into the sea. He questioned if anyone could explain why Sindh was continuously losing fertile land to the sea if that much water was flowing into the sea.
Bilawal recalled that once a committee comprising seven experts was formed to calculate the amount of water released into the sea. He claimed that the experts arrived at different values with the maximum difference of up to 46 MAF.
“What we and our peasants are seeing is the bare fact that sea waves are [continuously] advancing towards our land,” he said.
The PPP chairperson lamented that a lot of precious land had been lost to the sea due to the negligence of authorities. He disclosed that the Sindh government had started a programme to rehabilitate old waterways. The Senate committee on climate change had also made recommendations to the federal government to provide adequate funds for completing the project, he said, adding that the Centre ignored the committee’s recommendations like so many other recommendations made by the Senate.
He was of the view that Irsa did not pay any attention to the issue of sea intrusion which was an alarming situation. He admonished the authority for its apathy and failure.
The PPP chairperson promised that if the party came into power, it would take measures to protect the coastal areas of the country that were being intruded by the sea. There was no natural reason for the destruction of the delta of the Indus River, Bilawal asserted, adding that the delta’s destruction was the result of human actions.