KARACHI: Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) has designed two-week long colorful activities from 1st March to 14, to commemorate the International Day of Action for Rivers– 2015 throughout Sindh province. Fishermen, riverine and forest communities with herders and farmers will express solidarity with the world communities who as usual are planning similar activism to protect the rivers ecology, which have been the symbol of world civilizations.
The activities starting from Kharo Chhan in Indus Delta to Karachi and will continue at inland waters in Sangher, Badin, Jamshoro, Kashmore, Sujawal, Thatta and Badin. They will organize multicolored boat rallies, community walks, music and poetic gatherings to highlight folklore literature, which depicted the rivers, specifically the River Indus. Theater, folk dance and music performance will be the part of variety of events.
March 14 is a day to celebrate victories such as dam removal and river restoration. The communities will take to streets in their countries and press the states through demands for improvements in the policies and practices of decision makers.
PFF Chairperson Mohammad Ali Shah, describing the objectives of the two-week long activities, said this may raise awareness among the communities about their water rights and extend the demand to release at least 35 million acre feet (MAF) water downstream Kotri for regeneration of Indus Delta, which h is facing threats to be depleted fast due to many factors, mostly unavailability of water.
He said the rivers make delta with natural flow and bringing silt and freshness and provide alternate of livelihoods for deltaic communities. But now it seems Indus Delta is dying and may cause widely displacement and migration of communities to the other places for the better sources of livelihoods.
PFF Chairman said this activism may contribute to bring the communities and their representatives to discuss with the authorities and environmentalists to explore the factors damaging health of water bodies and rivers and suggest solutions.
Shah opposes the dams and diversions to the rivers and said it is need of the hour to strengthen voice for improved water governance and environmental flows of rivers.
Shedding light on the past water governance in the River Indus, PFF leader said before the building of dams and development of an irrigation system on Indus, an annual flow was recorded as over 180 MAF, carrying silt load of about 440 million tons passed through Indus to the Arabian Sea. The river streams into 17 branches called creeks, forming the seventh largest delta of the world—Indus Delta. Now the river water flow has reduced to less than 10 maf annually downstream Kotri.
This has entirely changed the social, economic, ecological and environmental landscape of the delta, which generated severe multidimensional crisis. Otherwise, the delta was once most prosperous region. Reportedly, deltaic region despite being 3 percent of Sindh’s total land area produced agricultural production which accounted for 25 percent of Pakistan’s economy.
The communities, residing at marine and inland waters, are preparing to celebrate the day of March 14, showing cultural activities to show unity to protect their rights of water and save their lakes, ponds and green pastures which are linked to the river flow.
Hundreds of community people with environmentalists, artists, cultural activists and civil society members will join the hands to raise demands to stop building dams and save the river ecology and livelihoods of people.
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