To greener pastures: With parched throats, Badin residents migrate in search of water

Farmers have been forced to delay sowing seeds.

Sameer Mandhro July 05, 2014


Dozens of families from various parts of Badin are moving in search of water, as acute water shortage has plagued the district for the last five months.

Out of its five talukas, four are suffering from a severe dearth of water; Golarchi, Badin, Tando Bago and Talhar. Shortage of water in the province’s coastal belt is nothing new but, according to local landlords and farmers, conditions have never been this severe.

“We have never experienced anything like this,” said Muhammad Hasham Dal, a landlord from the Tando Bago taluka, and a former official of the Sindh Irrigation and Drainage Authority. Dal revealed that several families have migrated; from Dehi, from Sangi Pharo and from Sadhero. “The people living on either side of the Sultani Canal have been hit the worst,” he added. “The entire region will be empty soon if the situation is not resolved.”

Dal said the Supreme Court ealier intervened to help the people of Badin but the government has failed to implement its orders.  “According to the law, the people who live at the tail ends also have a right to get their due share of water,” he said, warning that the situation would only worsen if the provincial government does not step in soon. “We don’t even have enough water to drink,” complained Dal, saying that the water found underground is not potable. “Even the animals don’t drink the water from some of the areas near the sea,” he added.

Others believe that this is not the work of nature, but rather some malicious forces are at play. “This shortage has been created deliberately, this is not natural,” claimed agriculturalist Haji Shakat Qazi. “Thousands of acres of fertile land has been destroyed. Paddy cultivation will not be on time this year.”

The blame, however, lies not with the provincial government but the federal one, according to Qazi. “We experience such conditions whenever Nawaz Sharif comes into power,” he said. “We had a sufficient amount of water last year, but now, it has all suddenly disappeared.”

Another agriculturalist, Malik Tariq Awan, was more focused on the financial losses that have been incurred due to the lack of water. “We have already lost millions of rupees,” he said. “If the situation continues, we will be ruined.”

Awan explained that the lack of water has forced farmers to delay sowing seeds. “Badin is the second largest producer of rice in Sindh after Jacobabad but the crop is definitely going to suffer this year.”

The farmers, on the brink of ruin, have been protesting continuously, hoping that the authorities will take some action. So far, they have failed to provide anything but empty assurances. The demonstrations have, however, not been in vain. Former president and Pakistan Peoples Party leader Asif Ali Zardari took notice of the situation on Tuesday and ordered the provincial government to resolve the issue. Zardari also talked over the phone with the elected Tando Bago MPA, Barrister Hasnain Ali Mirza, regarding the situation.

After Zardari’s orders, irrigation secretary Baber Hussain Effendi visited different areas of the district on Thurday and held meetings with its residents. “Yes, the situation is really dismal,” Mirza admitted to The Express Tribune, confirming his telephonic conversation with Zardari and Effendi’s visit to the area.

The elected MPA blamed the irrigation department of mismanagement and a lack of interest. “People in Badin need water immediately. The situation is critical,” he said.

Mirza admitted that villages on the coastal belt, especially those in the Golarchi, Badin and Tando Bago talukas, have been hit the worse. “We are trying to resolve the issue and hopefully it will be resolved within a week,” he assured.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 6th, 2014.


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