More than 30,000 people have been displaced by breach in Rohri Canal

Irrigation department hopes to resume water flow by today.

Z Ali May 14, 2012

HYDERABAD: Serving as a grim reminder of the dilapidated state of the irrigation system of Sindh, a breach in a part of the Rohri Canal led to large-scale displacement and destruction of crops.

More than 25 villages, in New Saeedabad taluka of Matiari district - including almost the whole union council of Bhale Dino Kaka submerged – causing between 30,000 and 40,000 people to lose their homes.

The Rohri Canal emerges from Sukkur Barrage and travels around 150 miles before entering the Matiari district.

A crack in the canal at RD-724, near Bakhar Jamali village, developed at around 7:30 pm on Sunday evening. It widened to over 200 feet in only a few hours and water gushed out towards the villages. The canal had around 13,000 cusecs of water before the breach.

According to chief engineer, Aijaz Qureshi, between 4,500 and 5,000 cusecs of water, greater than the capacity of Kalri-Baglihar Feeder which supplies water to Karachi, water flowing into the Matiari district after the breach. “Now after shutting the gates at Sukkur barrage, the flow has reduced to a less than1,000 cusecs.”

Qureshi said that the flow had decreased till Monday evening and will be plugged before the night. The irrigation department expected to resume water flow in the Rohri Canal by today.

Zahid Hussain, a farmers’ representative, said that crops worth millions had been lost. “The water destroyed the cotton crop over thousands of acres, “he said. “It also affected rice and some part of harvested wheat.”

The divisional commissioner said that a survey for determining the loss of property and crops will be conducted as soon as the situation returned to normal. He did not mention anything about compensation being paid by the government.

The chief minister’s adviser, Haleem Adil Shaikh, handed over 5,000 tents and a cheque of Rs5 million to the district administration on Monday for the relief of people.

However, Shaikh said that two separate inquiries will be conducted by the irrigation department and district administration.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 15th, 2012.

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