KARACHI: Ruling out the possibility of flooding, the Sindh government has declared 46 points of the Indus River 'sensitive', where officials of the irrigation department have been asked to monitor these places round the clock.
Addressing a press conference on Thursday afternoon, the newly appointed information minister, Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, said that the water flow coming from up country will safely pass into the Arabian Sea. "Currently 0.4million cusecs of water has reached the Guddu and Sukkur Barrages and a maximum flow of 0.6 million cusecs can hit these barrages and pass without any loss," Khuhro said, adding that the provincial government has strengthened the embankments of River Indus and that there is no threat to the dykes.
Khuhro, who has also been given the portfolio of the irrigation department, went on to say that leaves of employees have been cancelled so that they are available to deal with any possible emergency.
Khuhro, who was flanked by officials of the information and irrigation departments, referring to the 2010 flood said "Around 1.3 million cusecs of water has passed through the Sukkur and Guddu Barrages, so no one should worry about 0.6 million cusecs."
He added that after the super flood in 2010, the provincial government spent billions of rupees to strengthen the dykes of River Indus. Khuhro said that a high alert has been announced for the areas along the river bed, where officials of the Provincial Disaster Management Authority have started evacuating people. "Medical camps and control rooms are being setup in these areas to provide relief to the people," he said.
He said that strict action would be taken against the negligent irrigation officials for their failure to de-silt the canals and harden their embankments. "There are reports of flooding in the upstream, but people living in the tail end areas still cannot get water for irrigation purposes," he said. "Some officials of the irrigation department are involved in diverting the water to influential people. I have ordered an investigation into this, with action to be taken against these black sheep in my department," he remarked about water theft in Sindh.
Commenting on the reshuffle in the Sindh cabinet, Khuhro termed it a routine matter and ruled out the possibility of ministers' portfolios being changed due to their incompetency.
Criticising Imran Khan
Khuhro criticised the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader, Imran Khan, for his statement in favour of the Kalabagh Dam and said "Iman Khan Niazi has breached the privilege of three assemblies that had passed separate resolutions against this controversial dam". "A person having little knowledge about the irrigation system should be careful while commenting on the topic," he said.
Regarding the judicial commission report that rejected PTI's claims of widespread rigging in the general elections, he said that PTI leaders, by staging the sit-in in Islamabad, caused a loss of billions of rupees to the national economy and created anarchy in the country. He asserted that Imran Khan should tender an apology.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 24th, 2015.
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