HYDERABAD: As the water level inches to the dead level in Tarbela Dam, which supplies water to Sindh, the farmers lobbying group, Sindh Chamber of Agriculture (SCA), has demanded that the province be supplied water from both Tarbela and Mangla Dams for Kharif season. The farmers, at a meeting of the SCA in Hyderabad on Sunday, cited persistent water shortfall throughout the year to appeal the federal government to allow supply to the province from the two dams.
The SCA President Qabool Muhammad Khatian said that the water level has dropped to 1,402 feet which is only 16 feet higher than the dead level at 1,386 feet. "The water shortage for Kharif season has become inevitable. The centre should provide water to Sindh from both the dams," he demanded.
Mangla Dam supplies water to Punjab. The participants at the meeting observed that their demand could be met by the federal government because Kharif sowing in Sindh starts 45 to 60 days earlier from Punjab, suggesting that the latter would not suffer from the shortfall during the period in question.
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The SCA also called for enhancing the wheat procurement price from Rs1,300 to Rs1,500, basing its case on the rising prices of fertiliser, pesticides, fuel and other agricultural inputs. Khatian said the procurement rate has remained constant since 2012 but the prices of the inputs have regularly increased.
The farmers expressed grave concern over the low prices of potato and tomato crops and asked the federal government to allow export of the two crops. They also objected to the auction of the agricultural land of loan defaulters by the Agricultural Development Bank of Pakistan. They urged the centre to waive off loans of the farmers keeping in view water shortfall, low crop rates and drought which caused financial losses to the agricultural community.
The SCA's General Secretary Zahid Hussain Bhurgari, Syed Aijaz Nabi Shah, Asghar Khan Noonari, Mir Abdul Karim Talpur, Raees Murad Ali Khan Nizamani, Haji Shahzado Khan Chajjan and other office bearers and members of the chamber attended the meeting. The farmers from Karachi, Sukkur, Sanghar and Ghotki attended through video link.