Receding Indus water may affect tail-end growers

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The next immediate crops like sunflower, chili, tomato and other vegetables and then wheat and pulse cultivation might be affected as due to less rainfall the River Indus has received only 36,500 cusecs of water upstream of Kotri till the first week of August, which is insufficient to meet the demand of cultivation of seasonal crops in the tail-end areas of Sindh.

Officials at the Kotri Barrage control room, Jamshoro, collecting figures from all the barrages, said that presently they were releasing less than 500 cusecs of water downstream Kotri, which could not benefit growers of tail- end areas, and save the Indus delta. He termed it a gloomy picture for the future water status in downstream of Kotri.

“There is forecast of a little more flow in the river and we may release up to 1000 cusecs water downstream of Kotri within next four—five days. After the end of this month (August) definitely there is no chance of receiving water for tail-end areas of Thatta district,” he said.

The four major canals starting from Kotri depend on the position of Sukkur barrage. If it improves we will receive water within five-six days. Presently 60,000 cusec water has been recorded at Sukkur upstream, when it reaches here we will release little more water upto 1000 cusec downstream Kotri.

About the capacity of four canals, including Kalri Baghar (KB) feeder, which is the main source of water for Karachi city, the official said they require 42,000 cusec water, which presently are receiving 36,500 cusec. He said last year (2010) the flood had changed the situation during these days as the Rivers Indus and Kabul were in overflow and downstream Kotri released more than 950,000 cusecs of water, which brought prosperity for the deltaic communities. He said even in 2009 during this season (July—August) the downstream Kotri water status was better than current figure.

In this regard, community people, who received water after the second week of June this year for drinking and cultivation in Keti Bunder, Kharo Chhan and other parts of Thatta districts now are facing crisis because of shortage of water. Only the families residing in some parts of coastal area Kharo Chhan still have access to canal water for drinking, while in Keti Bunder the residents are facing water scarcity.

The season of sowing sunflower, tomato and chilly is September—October. Being major cash crops in Thatta coastal area, depending on the Indus water flow, farmers may face difficulties. Similarly wheat sowing season starts in November—December may suffer because the forecast reveals that there will be no water to feed these areas for timely cultivation.

Gulab Shah, President of the Pakistan Fisherfolk’s Forum (PFF) in Thatta district, said receding water flow in the Indus would affect all the communities, farmers, herdsmen and fishermen living in the tail-end areas. According to him, last year the flood had created a ray of hope for the deltaic communities, who stopped migration. Otherwise they were preparing to shift their families to other areas due to water shortage. However, the current status of River water may compel these depressed communities to migrate to other areas in the search of better living.

IUCN, WWF-Pakistan and the PFF which are implementing community empowerment and marine ecology conservation projects in the deltaic region earlier suggested to the government to ensure release of 10 million acre-feet (MAF) water downstream of Kotri to keep the ecosystem intact. This situation of water shortage in the river may affect farmers, fishermen and herdsmen communities in the area.


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