May 16, 2022
By Shaukat Korai
While agriculturalists and political activists are staging a series of protests in different cities across Sindh over severe water shortage, the provincial government has stated that steps are being taken to ensure availability of water. It is being claimed that approximately 60,000 cusecs water is being provided, however, it may take days for it to reach Sindh’s border regions.
Most districts in Lower Sindh are in the midst of a drought, including Thatta, Badin, Tando Muhammad Khan and Sujawal. These areas receive water from the Kotri Barrage, there is a 69% drop in its average capacity.
According to water agreements between the provinces, 15,700 cusecs should flow at Kotri Barrage, however this is not the case. Similarly, the water level at Guddu Barrage has dropped by 92%, while at Sukkur Barrage, the loss is at 47%.
Farmers in Lower Sindh plead that that the situation is dire, with drought-like conditions killing off their cattle and crop.
Former Secretary of Irrigation, Idrees Rajput, stated that there are multiple reasons for the severe water shortage in Sindh. He claimed that the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) is responsible for choking supply from Tarbela Dam in order to generate electricity, and that due to lack of rainfall this season, water from the Indus River is being diverted via link canals to Punjab.
Agriculturalist and head of the Tail-End Settlers Association (TSA) in Badin, Azizullah Dero, said that sugarcane, cotton, rice, peppers and other crops are cultivated in Lower Sindh, but because of the drought-like conditions, people are being forced to migrate. He added that the situation is not only negatively impacting farmers, but will also hit the country’s treasury.
Rajput added that in Lower Sindh crops are sown in the beginning of April, however due to the water shortage, this could not be accomplished in time.
According to Dero, Badin alone possesses around 2 million acres of agricultural land which likely will no longer have any settlements. Meanwhile, thousands involved in the agriculture and livestock sector are being pushed into unemployment.
Per the Indus River System Authority and Sindh Irrigation Department, the province as a whole has been water scarce for the last 20 years. However, the shortage at Kotri downstream has been particularly severe resulting in the sea pushing further inward, submerging thousands of acres of agricultural land and displacing hundreds of thousands of families.