KARACHI: Global warming and sea intrusion have caused rise in sea level and sea has engulfed 3.5 million acres of agricultural lands in Thatta, Badin and Sajawal districts in Sindh. If situation remains same after 25 to 30 years Thatta, Badin and Sajawal would not more exist.
Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) chairperson Mohammad Ali Shah talking to Daily Times said on daily basis sea intrusion was 80 acre. “If you want to stop sea intrusion, you would have to release sufficient amount of river water into the sea,” said Shah.
In 1991, an agreement ‘Water Accord 1991’ to share waters of the Indus River was reached between the four provinces of Pakistan in the form of the Water Apportionment Accord (WAA). This accord is based on both, the existing and future water needs of the four provinces.
Perennial flow of water is required at Kotri downstream. “If thirty-five million-acre-feet (MAF) of river water is released at downstream Kotri Barrage only then sea intrusion could be stopped. At the moment zero MAF of water is being released. Water is discharged only during floods”.
According to ‘Water Accord 1991’ the need for certain minimum escapade to sea, below Kotri to check sea intrusion was recognised. Sindh held the view the optimum level was 10 MAF, which was discussed at length.
“Even water accord comes in action there is no use of it. We opposed then and oppose it now. The amount is supposed to be release is 35 MAF, not less than it. Look how fast the sea intrusion is. Until now sea has crossed at Sajawal Bridge, said office barrier of PFF.
Seawater intrusion has resulted in the damage million acres of fertile land of the deltaic districts Thatta, Badin and Sajawal districts. Historical Keti Bunder is one of the major coastline town was facing environmental degradation and loss of livelihood opportunities for the locals.
The location of Keti Bunder town has changed thrice during past due to progressive intrusion of the seawater. Before the construction of any dam and barrages on Indus River, Keti Bunder was a port city.
“This is third Keti Bunder built in recent times. Previous two cities were victim of sea intrusion, said Tahir Abbasi site Coordinator, Building Capacity on Climate Change Adaptation in Coastal Areas of Pakistan (CCAP). The project is being implemented in collaboration with World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
We are taking numbers of steps including the training sessions for the awareness of eco system adaptation. Plantation of mangroves is one of them. Mangroves are defense line of the area, Tahir added. During high tide, water rises up to three-and-half foot level high so it adds miseries to the vulnerable communities in coastal areas. What we have done is provided them some four feet high elevated wooden platforms. Around 24 feet above houses have been made by CCAP, said Tahir showing huts made by CCAP at Siddique Dablo village. The project also focuses on supporting governance mechanisms to become more responsive and robust when addressing climate variability and change related impacts, he said.
There are four major creeks in the area viz Chann, Hajamro, Khobar and Kangri with innumerable small creeks. For sweet water (drinking and farming), Keti Bunder and other coastal region depend entirely on Indus River and its distributaries (WWF, 2008).
For locals of Siddique Dablo village coastal erosion means less fishing. Keti Bunder once surrounded by sweet river water is no more a pleasing place for hunting the fish. For Esa a local who like others involved in fishing is not a happy man. “There are good days and there are bad days. One catch could earn us thousands of rupees but there is always possibility of remain idle. I remained at sea for five months but remained empty handed. I just returned from sea yesterday. During those five months my family took Rs 250,000 from Majeed Seth, said Esa.
Seth is the capitalist who buys fish from the local fishermen and provides financial support to their families during the year.
I have to repay my seth. God would give. Good days would come and I would be able to catch good catch. However rates are very low. If our seth buys fish from us for Rs 10,000, he would resell it in Rs 100,000, that is the area where we can not do anything, Esa told.
I have three sons and six daughters. My one son is married. I have to arrange money for my unmarried kids, he said.
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