Pesticides and chemicals playing havoc with human health and environment
KARACHI: The application of pesticides and broad spectrum chemicals has led to many pest outbreaks, damaging human health and the environment by killing non-target bio-control agents, environment-friendly organisms and birds, says a report compiled by the World Conservation Union (IUCN), featuring development and environment of Sindh.
According to the report, an increase in the use of fertilisers and pesticides has been witnessed, which has led to land degradation and depletion of organic matter in the soil. “Most of the fertilisers and pesticides are substandard and the Directorate of Plant Protection and Agriculture Extension has not been able to effectively control their production and use.” The report further said that the absence of lining in canals and water channels result in leakages that cause water-logging and seepage in the urban water transmission and distribution system.
“Meanwhile, sea intrusion in the delta has made most of the subsoil in the aquifer saline. Sindh is a major producer of grain, fruit and vegetables. However, crop yields are low and have been almost stagnant for the last decade.
“This is due to salinity caused by leakages from canals and from sea intrusion in the delta and coastal districts. Over irrigation and badly managed water distribution also contribute to poor crop yield.”
The report dwelt in length on the water problems being faced by the province and gave some crucial figures.
It said Indus water is crucial to Sindh’s survival as 95 percent of its farmland acquires water from the Indus Basin Irrigation System (IBIS) and 97 percent of all water is used for agriculture. “The groundwater available in Sindh accounts to only three to five MAF and is potable only in 28 percent of Sindh’s geographical area.”
Referring to the 1991 Water Accord, the report said Sindh was awarded 48.76 MAF yearly from the IBIS. “However, it has received much less than this due to the non-implementation of the water accord as well as the persistence of drought.
“The most severely affected area in the province is the Indus Delta which has shrunk to ten percent of its original size due to the construction of dams and barrages on the Indus.”
The report says: “Sindh is plagued by acute water insecurity. In 1971-72, when Sindh’s population was 14.156 million, water availability was 39.3 MAF. In 1998-99, when the population rose to 30 million, water availability was reduced to 48.5 million acres feet. The water problem is further aggravated by defective irrigation practices like flood irrigation, lack of drainage facilities and the absence of properly organised management and distribution of this resource.”