Contrary to promises that small new dams will be built to store water received during the rainy season and rainwater will be harvested to utilise them for drinking and irrigation purposes, the Sindh government has not repaired small dams built along the Malir river bed, in Karachi, damaged by heavy rains two years ago. As things stand, this can only be attributed to the government’s mismanagement and lethargy, adding to its long list of apathy towards public problems. These dams irrigate agricultural lands in a wide area of more than 30 kilometres increasing the production of food grains, vegetables, fruits and fodder.
Farmers have criticised the government for its failure to make the damaged dams and reservoirs functional, as they are facing a serious shortage of irrigation water affecting their output and earnings. There are two dams along the Malir river bed — one was built in 1970 and the other later. Their capacity for holding water has reduced over the years due to wear and tear, the lack of maintenance and neglect. The decline in the dams’ storage capacity is resulting in a large amount of water going to waste. The water that would otherwise have been used to irrigate agricultural lands flows into the sea.
Proper harvesting of water and its storage would have increased the ever-falling water table in Karachi and its adjoining suburban areas and villages. Cultivators have slammed the government for failing to pay proper attention to maintenance of the dams. The crumbling dams are unable to hold water. When the river is in spate during the rainy season, strong currents of water from the overflowing river are weakening the foundations of the bridge over the river on the National Highway, thus endangering human life. Cultivators claim that instead of carrying out repairs to the impaired dams and increasing the number of dams and reservoirs to prevent the waste of precious water, the government is ‘compelling’ the landowners to sell their farmlands to builders of housing societies.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 7th, 2021.
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