Freshwater Action Network
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World Water Day Celebration at Thatta, Sindh

More than 600 peoople thronged the roads of Thatta to help save the Indus Delta.

A Report by Bharumal Amrani

THATTA, 25  March. More than 600 people, both male and female, thronged on the roads of Thatta to raise their voice before the national and international community, on the eve of World Water Day. They sought their help to save the Indus Delta, release water at Kotri downstream, and ensure provision of their water share as water is the only source of their socio-economic development. The demonstration was held under the aegis of the Society for the Conservation and Protection of Environment (SCOPE), Thatta, and Freshwater Action Network South Asia (FANSA).

The rally was led by the renowned environmentalists Tanveer Arif, Mahjabeen Khan and Shafi Jatt. Banners and placards were carried during the march through various thoroughfares and demonstrators raised full-throated slogans such as 'give us water, save Indus delta', 'release downstream water' and 'rehabilitate flood affected families'.

Environmentalist and intellectual Bharumal Amrani explained that the Indus Delta is 356km long. It stretches over an area of 600,000 hectares between Karachi and the south-western border of India. Before reaching the sea the river is divided into channels and forms a triangular shape which is called the delta. This triangle is created when rivers carry water along with silt which is deposited at the transition belt of the river and sea. When this practice is continued for centuries it develops into a delta. He added that the watershed area of the Indus River is about ten million square kilometres. When huge amounts of silt carried by rivers flowed into sea and some parts were deposited in the river, it increased the delta. It used to carry about 400 million tons of silt annually. It is comprised of creeks, extensive mud flats, sand dunes, salt marshes and salsola foetida (lani), tamarix dioca (lai), mangroves and other flora and fauna. Amrani urged the authorities to take appropriate measures for the rehabilitation of flora and fauna damaged and disturbed during recent floods.

Speaking on the occasion, Taveer Arif of SCOPE said that Sindh is not being given its due share of water and water is not released at Kotri downstream. As a result, the Indus Delta and mangroves have reached the verge of extinction. Survival of millions of people, flora and fauna is linked with the flowing River Indus. He added that it is the reason that the country is facing floods, cyclone and tsunamis which are causing the displacement of millions of people and other disasters. He said that due to climate change we cannot stop these disasters, but we can minimize their damaging effects by rehabilitating the Indus Delta, which is the only source of socio-economic development of the people of Sindh, especially those living in the tail of River Indus. He called upon authorities to expedite the pace of work on the repair of dykes and warned that no substandard work on dykes would be tolerated because it is matter of the lives and properties of people.

Tasleem said that according to a 1994 IUCN report, about 70 years ago the Indus Delta was receiving 847 Million Acre-Feet (MAF) of freshwater per year, which carried a huge quantity of silt. Later it decreased to 150 MAF per year, carrying 400 million tones of silt with it and now it has decreased to 35.2 MAF.

Shazia Soomro said that the Indus Delta receives highest wave energy during the south west monsoon. In the past, high power discharges of the Indus River water faced the highest wave energy which is now reduced and the wave energy is causing severe erosion in some areas of the Indus Delta. She added that pollution in the marine environment affects the growth pattern of mangroves only in district Thatta due to devastating floods in the River Indus.

According to Soomro, approximately 0.7 million people of Taluka Sijawal, Bahtoro, Jati, Shahbandr, Ghora Bari and Thatta itself were affected seriously. About 0.2 million flood-hit people were shifted to the historical graveyard Makli.