KARACHI: Sindh inland fishermen fear that the fast shrinking water resources may cause devastation, as hundreds of fishermen depending on natural lakes have become jobless. There is no exact data that how many fresh waters still exists in what conditions, because the government’s figure to have 1209 waters in the province is the oldest version.
Discussing with the media persons at a workshop organized by Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF), the community activists say there were 200 inland water species till 1990, but presently highly delicious species are no more in the major waters. The reason is because the government has shifted its priorities to promote agriculture, leaving fishing at the mercy of politically influential persons to deprive fishermen of their basic right to livelihoods.
Ramzan Mallah of Sanghar said PFF has taken initiative to have sustainable livelihoods for small-scale inland fisherfolk. “We are struggling to improve livelihoods of fisherfolk in terms of food security, income generation and provide better access to resources and market,” he said, adding that in this regard community-based fish management through Fisherfolk Cooperative Society is being designed to benefit the vulnerable people of Sanghar district. In fact threats to food sources is major problem, facing the fishermen, hence they are working to promote skill enhancement of women and introducing alternative means of livelihoods.
Ishaq Mangrio, Sindhi folklore writer and president Hyderabad Press Club said there is no fresh study to understand the current status of waters, quality of drinking water and availability of fish stock. Depletion of natural resources
and threats to biodiversity are not on the priorities of the government.
He said the foreign funded project Right Bank Outfall Drainage (RBOD) has polluted major lakes like Hamal, Kachhri and Manchhar lakes, forcing local communities to shift their families. This shows how the natural resources, which provide sources of incomes to hundreds of people have been destroyed in the name of development, he added.
For instance, he said there were residential boat villages, set up inside the Manchhar Lake now have been shrunken. Because the lake does not receive fresh water and has become dumping site to get agricultural and industrial waste through Main Nara Valley (MNV) Drain.
Mir Hassan Mari said Chotiari Reservoir was established over 64 scenic lakes in the area. There were clusters of lakes, which were known as natural habitats for wildlife species, mainly Marsh crocodile, soft coated Otters, reptiles and mammals. But after this development ecology of the Nara Valley has come under threats.
Now the government has developed Nara and Ranto canals remodelling project, which further may cause destruction, he said. Suhail Siddiqi, Senior journalists Mahesh Kumar, Fahmeeda Jarwar, Hosh Mohammed Mangi, Aslam Memon, Ameet Kumar, Eddu Jeelani, Amir Bakhsh Burdi and others attended the workshop and took part in the discussion.
The participants expressed concerns over the performance of universities, private and public, in Pakistan, which are reluctant to conduct fresh studies about the environment, status of climate change and water bodies. Speakers said there are more natural lakes in the desert areas of Sanghar up to Khipro, which used to get water through watercourses, which has been stopped. He said encroachment on water bodies by influential landlords is not only for imposing contract system, they are also grabbing lakes land for cultivation purposes.