KARACHI: Growers and fishermen from deltaic region, Kharochhan in Thatta district, eventually have filed a petition in Sindh High Court (SHC) seeking water share and action against the irrigation officials reluctant to play their role in equally supplying water to tail end area people.
The petitioners include Mohammed Ali Shah, chairperson Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF), Mohammed Usman, Yaqoob Otho and Illyas Perozani, representing local growers, fishermen and herders, pleading to ensure supply of water through irrigation canals, which they allegedly said is being taken by certain influential persons, depriving hundreds of farmers, fishermen and herders, who are unable to get even potable water for drinking in the wide area. Hundreds of families are facing hardships due to new phenomenon in which politically-backed landlords have set up illegal pumps to irrigate their entire lands, depriving tail enders of their legitimate share.
The petition held respondents Sindh chief secretary, secretary irrigation, chief engineer and executive engineers Sakro division as responsible to ensure equally water distribution and remove the grievances of growers, who are unable to get their water share for the last few years. The scarcity of irrigation water has affected badly the agriculture, depleted meadows and sources of drinking water. Farmers are unable to cultivate their seasonal crops. There are fears that this may affect the traditional source of living of the local communities.
Jamil Junejo, Manager Programmes for PFF and focal person on water-related issues expressed fears that the cry of food scarcity was echoing together with water shortage and panicking the people. He linked the issue to intensifying poverty further, creating uncertainty and chaos in the entire areas.
“Hundreds of people, depending on cultivation, animal rearing and fishing are vulnerable to face hardships. They want instant intervention by the government to restore water supply in watercourses. Otherwise, it may cause mass migration of the communities and this could not be a good sign for the nation on the whole,” Junejo said.
He said the people of this tail end area have already been experiencing hunger, destruction and displacement. This new phenomenon may further worsen the situation. Food sources are shrinking all around, as the people are already experiencing ups and downs in the sea.
PFF chairperson Mohammed Ali Shah said since the international water treaties suggested water as human right to all the people, the government authorities should take the cry of these tail end deltaic people in to consideration and resolve the issue to avoid disaster of food shortage there, because these people depend on fishing, farming and animal rearing and facing the problem.
Small growers of tail end areas of Thatta district have say the persistent water shortage in irrigation canals and smaller tributaries have perished all the seasonal crops like banana, betel leaf, vegetables and paddy standing on hundreds of acres of land.
The community elders pointed out that hundreds of people belonging to Deh Thare wari and Deh Darsi in Kharochhan get water by two canals for cultivation of their pieces of lands and for drinking purposes. They plead since canal system is supposed to bring green revolution through increasing agriculture inputs, here the situation is looking different, because of carelessness at the part of government functionaries.
They said influential persons by violating rules have installed water sucking pumps at upstream to get more water for their lands, depriving tail enders of their legal water share. This has caused destruction of their crops.
The petition has pointed out that the persistent water shortage has compelled a large number of families to migrate to safer places in the search of better living, because they are afraid of further increasing vulnerability of the people due to shortage of food. There is also an apparent danger of outbreak of waterborne diseases in the wide area due to water scarcity that may disrupt the life and turn disastrous.
The petition also quoted the resolution, passed by the United Nations General Assembly which had recognized the human right to water and sanitation and acknowledged that clean drinking water and sanitation are essential to the realisation of all human rights. The Resolution calls upon States and international organisations to provide financial resources, help capacity-building and technology transfer to help countries, in particular developing countries, to provide safe, clean, accessible and affordable drinking water and sanitation for all.
They said despite this kind of severity of the issue neither government has offered alternate nor announced any relief package for the affected families.
It is pertinent to note that the growers of the area had already convened a conference, which attracted a large number of community people, farmers, fishermen and herders to sit together and decide how to get the common right. This initiative is the part of the struggle in which petitioners have adopted this strategy to knock the door of justice for seeking the eligible right, which the country constitution guarantees.
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