by Zaheer Ahmed Qureshi, Qasimabad, Hyderabad
Courtesy: Daily Dawn, 31.1.2009
The decision to constitute rehabilitation and revival commission for restoreing Indus delta as reported “Call to establish Indus rehabilitation body” (January 20) though much belated; when damage caused is already immeasurable, yet as the maxim goes ‘better late then never’, if implemented, without fear and favor can still bring back one of the great river systems of the world to its original shape.
As reported the commission on national conference on Indus delta, will allocate resources for the revival of all forms of life that had been damaged and provide an alternative livelihood to all communities affected by the existing inequitable water distribution system and consequently deprived of their means of living. The mission which is gigantic requires national consensus but at the same time need international support in the shape of expertise in the related filed as well as huge funding.
This Herculean task has multidimensional hazards as well which also need to be addressed first. For instance the perception of upper riparian areas developed over period of time i.e. the water which flows to the sea is sheer wastage and secondly open defiance of consensus arrived at by the provinces for sharing water such as “Indus Water Accord of 1991” have to over come at the first instance.
I would like to draw attention of the Commission towards equally vital problem which our water system is bracing since last three decades. It is the contamination of sweet water lakes and the Indus River itself. The poisonous and saline water carrying canal RBOD has been discharged into lakes of Sindh such as Manchar, Haleje etc and besides right from Peshawar to Karachi entire human waste of the cities, towns and industrial and agriculture toxic-waste has been thrown into the river changing it into “world’s great ‘nallah’ a sewerage drain” as has been rightly pointed out by Qazi Bashir Ahmed (Saving the River Indus” (February 2, 2008).
I therefore appeal to the Commission to take up this issue of paramount importance in the first instance, separate of rehabilitating Indus delta as the water carrying effluence has caused so many water borne diseases causing serious health hazards for the people who are utilizing highly polluted water.