Water protests are erupting across the length and breadth of Sindh as the province fights the case for their due share of water from the Indus River with the centre and Indus River System Authority (IRSA).
Hundreds of farmers also staged a protest in Mirpurkhas district, burning tyres and partially affecting the movement of traffic on Tando Ghulam Ali-Tando Allahyar road. Separate protests were also held in parts of Jamshoro, Ghotki, Sanghar, Noshehro Feroze and other districts as well.
A farmer also tried to commit suicide in front of the local irrigation office by hanging himself from a tree but the protesters saved his life.
Mehboob Khan Sarewal, Maula Bux Laghari, Murk Laghari and other protesters said an artificial shortage of water has been created in their areas in Chambarh taluka for over a month.
In Badin district, the protesters marched for around six kilometers before reaching Tando Bago where a demonstration was held on Saturday.
The Badin Bachayo Committee [Save Badin Committee] has planned a long march for June 10 which will culminate outside the head office of Sindh Irrigation and Drainage Authority in Hyderabad. Ameer Azad Panhwar of the committee said that Punjab has opened its controversial canals unlawfully.
Sujawal, a coastal district, has faced the shortage for several weeks with around 60 large and small waterways going completely dry.
According to farmers they have been unable to sow paddy seeds because the irrigation system has turned dry. "Cattle farmers are migrating to areas where they can find water," said Anwar Laghari, a farmer.
In the neighbouring coastal district Thatta the citizens living in the urban parts complained of coping with drinking water unavailability.
At a protest outside the local press club Abdul Jabbar Bhanbro, WaqarMemon and other protesters said Thatta's fertile zones are being constantly turned barren.
Memon said on one hand sea is intruding in the coastal areas and on other hand the areas linked with the irrigation network are not being supplied water.
Bhanbro claimed that the entire district including its urban and rural parts have been severely hit by the paucity.
Reacting to the situation Sindh Taraqi Pasand Party Chairman Dr Qadir Magsi argued that the canals in Punjab have been built without approval from Sindh which is the lower riparian of Indus and holds the right over the river. Magsi said the conduct of IRSA is not in favour of the federation.
Awami Tehreek President Dr Rasool Bux Khaskheli blamed the feudal lords of Sindh for conniving with Punjab in the water theft. He also blamed the Pakistan Peoples Party for showing weakness in fighting the case of Sindh's water.
Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz (JSQM) leader Dr Niaz Kalani said Sindh's agricultural economy is being destroyed by creating a dearth of water. At a press conference in Thatta district Kalani and JSQM leader Riaz Chandio said that Punjab had sold its three rivers to India. According to them, there are 42 link canals from Indus in Punjab against only 14 in Sindh.
Read more: CM Murad accuses IRSA of favouring Punjab
The nationalist leaders deplored that the Chashma Jhelum link canal which is supposed to be opened only during the flood season is being supplied water throughout the year.
Qaumi Awami Tehreek leader Ayaz Latif Palijo said while Indus River System Authority (IRSA) is abetting the water theft of Sindh, whatever small quantity is received in the province is consumed for irrigation purpose by the people associated with the ruling party in Sindh.
According to May 28 daily water situation report of IRSA, Sindh received 64,083 cusecs of water at Guddu Barrage. The third and last barrage on the Indus in Sindh, Kotri, received only 10,955 cusecs out of which a meagre 200 cusecs was released in the downstream while the remaining water was distributed among the barrage’s four canals. One of its canal, KB Feeder, supplies water to Karachi. The Sindh government, however, disputes these figures as exaggerated.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 30th, 2021.