Since 1993, the people of Badin have been unhappy. This was the year when the Left Bank Outfall Drain (LBOD) was completed and their problems began. Then in 1999, a strong cyclone made the matters worse. Every year since then, the damage wrought in the district has been blamed on the ‘faulty design’ of one of the major drains in the country.
The LBOD was initially designed to channel the excessive irrigation water and industrial effluents from Benazirabad, Sanghar and Mirpurkhas districts into the Arabian Sea in Badin. According to experts, however, due to numerous faults in its design and operations, the drain has instead been causing heavy damages from time to time. The hardest-hit are the people and their crops, especially whenever the area is hit by cyclones or torrential rains.
On the edge
With torrential rains and floods wreaking havoc in the province, especially Badin, for the past two consecutive years, this year too, the people in Badin are on the edge. Agriculturists among other stakeholders in three talukas of the district – Tando Bago, Badin and Shaheed Fazil Rahu – are not satisfied by what has been done in the name of rehabilitation.
In the cyclone of 1999, over 40 kilometres of tidal link at the LBOD was split open from more than 50 places, causing massive destruction. “I don’t remember such widespread damage in Badin before the LBOD was built,” said Jahan Khan Chandio, whose village is located near Kadhan, which was hit badly. “Every year, we face a tougher situation. There have been no crops since the 2011 monsoon and I fear for more destruction in the coming season, if concrete measures are not taken.”
However, the Sindh Irrigation and Drainage Authority’s (SIDA) area body, working on the repair and maintenance of the LBOD, proudly claims that serious efforts are being made.
Since the LBOD’s establishment, nothing was done for its maintenance, claims Sohail Akber Mirza, the chairman of SIDA’s Left Bank Canal Area Water Board and a former district naib nazim. “We are in the first phase and more works will be initiated in the second phase,” he said. Mirza added that Badin is not a direct beneficiary of the drain.
He blamed the destruction in the past years to unprecedented rains. “Last year, the district received about 760mm rain and the water flow in the LBOD went above 15,000 cusecs while its capacity is only 4,600 cusecs,” Mirza explained.
Nothing being done
Another former naib nazim, Aziz Diro, contradicted the claims of the LBOD rehabilitation, stressing that the present capacity of the drain must be enhanced. He also suggests making the Doro Puran Outfall Drain (DPOD) functional. “If the authorities concerned really intend to secure Badin, they should concentrate on the DPOD,” he added. The DPOD is a natural waterway which runs parallel to the LBOD. Diro’s village is situated between the DPOD and the LBOD and sharing his experience, he said that almost 70 per cent of the water flow in the entire district would be released if on-time necessary steps are taken. “The people were only able to recover their valuables in last year’s flood, but I fear they won’t be able to save themselves next time,” Diro warned.
About the ongoing work at the drain, senior agriculturist Nawaz Memon said that it would be not as devastating as it is now, if the water in the LBOD is drained into Shakoor Lake instead of the sea. “The drain is certain to overflow because of its low capacity and the higher flow of water,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 16th, 2012.
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