The World Bank Regional Director John Roome during his visit to Kotri Barrage on Tuesday emphasised on the need of modernisation in the agriculture and irrigation sectors to help Pakistan grow exports and ensure self-sufficiency.
Roome, who also attended a meeting at the office of Sindh Irrigation and Drainage Authority (SIDA) in Hyderabad, informed that the WB and the Sindh government are starting a reforms oriented project titled Sindh Water and Agriculture Transformation (SWAT).
"The project will help both the agriculture and irrigation sectors to develop," he said. According to him, the irrigation department needed to ensure timely supply of water for cultivation of crops.
Roome also referred to the effects of climate change on agriculture and advised the farmers to cultivate crops which can resist adverse climate.
He told the meeting that the restoration of Akram Canal, which springs from Kotri Barrage and irrigate lands in Hyderabad, Tando Muhammad Khan and Badin districts, is part of SWAT project.
SIDA Managing Director Preetam Das observed that rehabilitation of Akram Canal has emerged as a big challenge before the authority. "Akram is a perennial canal which flows for 12 months. We will get very less time to work on its structure and that too without stopping the water flows."
He expressed the hope that the project in question will address all the technical faults in the canal, resulting in increase of its capacity and plugging of the seepages which contribute to water losses.
"The project will help enhance the acreage of arable land in Hyderabad, Tando Muhammad Khan and Badin," Preetam Das said.
The canal was commissioned in 1964 with the capacity of 4,200 cusecs. However, it could carry only up to 2,700 cusecs since its commissioning because of technical faults. According to the spokesman of SIDA Hizbullah Mangrio, under the project a sum of $120 million will be spent on the canal for replacement of its regulators, reinforcement of its embankments and building of a retaining wall on its banks in Hyderabad.
However, it is awaiting the approval of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC).
The spokesman expressed the hope that ECNEC will give its nod to the project at its meeting later this month. It is still not decided how many percent of the funding will come from the Sindh government. But in view of the past projects co-funded by the WB and the Sindh government it is expected that the former will give a loan to cover 75% cost of the project and the latter 25%.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 16th, 2022.
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