Overflowing Chenab and Indus rivers have inundated 4,000 acres of land sown with different crops as well as fruit orchards due to authorities’ failure to rebuild and strengthen embankments after last year’s floods with the matured cotton crop bearing the brunt of losses, farmers say.
The harvested cotton was lying unsold in the fields because of a recent strike by ginning factories and though the strike had been called off later, before lifting the commodity rains and floods damaged it.
They say water level in Rajanpur is rising continuously, putting the city under the risk of floods. The breach in Qutub canal has widened to 60 feet due to flash floods as rains continue in the Koh-e-Suleman range. Three-hundred people have been displaced and cotton crop sown over hundreds of acres has been submerged.
In addition to this, water from Ghaghra river has destroyed crops cultivated over hundreds of acres in Rahim Yar Khan, Sadiqabad, Haroonabad and Cholistan.
Farmers say small growers have been hit the hardest by heavy rains as the Punjab government failed to strengthen dykes and embankments before the onset of monsoon. They fear the situation will worsen as heavy rainfall is expected to continue to lash areas of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and upper Punjab over the next one week. Water released by India is also entering rural areas of southern Punjab, they add. Rains have also affected 65 per cent of the livestock in the region, causing food problems for poor families.
Farmers say floods have affected banana and other crops in Sindh as well as date orchards in Rahim Yar Khan and interior Sindh.
Farmers’ Board Southern Punjab President Fayyazul Hasan Bhutta told The Express Tribune the government had the responsibility to examine river embankments and repair the damaged ones. “We have lost billions in these floods and small farmers and peasants have been particularly hit hard. Livestock has also been destroyed,” he said.
Giving an estimate of damages to agricultural crops and livestock, he said losses could be worth more than Rs10 billion with the Meteorological Department forecasting heavy rainfall over the next three days in southern Punjab and Balochistan.
Around one million cotton bales are feared to have been damaged by recent rains in Sindh and Punjab, according to Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 4th, 2011.