Saline water from Thar coalfield benefiting Gorano reservoir

Report finds that Gorano, a wetland of subsoil saline water, is attracting various birds which feed on fish


Our Correspondent February 05, 2019
Sindh government provides drought relief for Thar. PHOTO: ONLINE

HYDERABAD: A brief ecological survey conducted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) over Gorano reservoir being filled with saline water pumped out from Thar's coalfield, has reflected positively on the pond. The report finds that Gorano, which is a wetland of subsoil saline water, is attracting various birds which feed on fish.

In a statement on Monday, the chief executive officer (CEO) of Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC), which built the reservoir for its coalmine, Abul Fazal Rizvi, said that Gorano has developed into an important ecological site. Commenting on the IUCN's survey report, he said Gorano was proving to be a rich source of bio-diversity in the area.

He said successful fish farming and aqua culture projects are underway in the reservoir. "Gorano has now become a prized eco-tourism site which can not only attract tourists but also create new economic opportunities for local communities," he said.

However, the report noted that salinity level of the water is very high and that it will gradually increase more with a high rate of evaporation, particularly in dry and hot seasons of the year. This water pond was artificially created on 1,500 acres of land. It is situated in Taluka Islamkot of Thar district some 30 kilometres away from Islamkot Town.

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The reservoir stirred a backlash from the area's residents who staged year-long demonstrations besides taking the matter to Sindh High Court. They contended that the project would kill biodiversity in the area besides snatching their livelihoods.

According to the survey, before the land in question was filled with water the authorities had counted 4,199 local desert trees growing on 834 acres of land. The trees on remaining part of over 600 acres were not counted. "These trees are still alive but all the 4,199 trees have been submerged in the pond and will not live longer," the report cautioned. To compensate the loss, it suggested plantation of local tree species.

Last year SECMC commenced a pilot project of fish farming in Gorano with over 100,000 fish successfully grown in the saline water and termed fit for human consumption, according to the company. With the introduction of fish, the fish eating birds have started visiting the reservoir pond.

Some species have even started breeding on the partly submerged tree tops, according to the report. However, no wild ducks and waders come to the pond due to the absence of their food. The report suggested measures to attract these birds to the pond.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 5th, 2019.

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