Sindh-WAPDA dispute

By G.N.Mughul, Karachi, Sindh

Karachi, Apr. 25: Sindh-WAPDA dispute on the construction of Reni Canal in Guddu Barrage Canal Command area particularly relating to the extension of divide wall near the head regulator of Ghotki Canal, could not be resolved despite a series of the joint meetings between the high officials of WAPDA and Sindh Government held last week.

As the result, ultimately the work on the construction of the extension of existing divide wall has been stopped and till the filing of this report there was complete stalemate with regard to the fate of the project itself.

Meanwhile, the growers of Ghotki Feeder are reported to be agitating against the construction of the proposed divide wall as according to their apprehensions, with the construction of the said divide wall the water supply to Ghotki Feeder from Guddu Barrage would be affected miserably causing serious water shortage for lakhs of acres irrigated on the water supplied from Ghotki Feeder.

According to the details, no doubt the feasibility of Reni Canal was prepared by Sindh Government in 1988. But, afterwards, on coming to the conclusion that there was no enough water available in Indus for operating new reservoirs or new canals, Sindh Government virtually lost interest in this project. This project aimed at irrigating about 412400 acres of land of desert area of Ghotki, Sukkur, and Khairpur districts.

In the meantime, during Pervaiz Musharaf rule, at a high level meeting held in Lahore under the chairmanship of the then Chief Executive Gen. Pervaiz Musharaf, Water Vision was approved which also included Reni Canal project from Sindh.

It is said that Sindh Government was not consulted while including this scheme in the said Water Vision. According to some circles, this scheme was included in the Vision by Federal Government/Wapda at its own to balance the proposal to construct controversial Greater Thal Canal – the scheme included the said water vision.

By the way, there is not only major contradiction between the stands of WAPDA and Sindh Government on the extension of Divide Wall but interestingly the independent irrigation experts have reservations on the place for the construction of Head Regulator of Reni Canal also. Their position is in contradiction with the position of WAPDA as well as that of Sindh Government.

According to experts, originally it was conceived that Reni Canal would be a flood canal but as per its present design, if constructed it would be operated as irrigation canal resultantly it is bound to affect miserably the operation of Ghotki Canal, the water drawing capacity of which is about 11000 cusecs and lakhs of acres are irrigated on this canal.

According to WAPDA documents, as per the recommendations of model study: (a) Head Regulator was to be located in the left guide bank instead of left marginal bund, (b) size of left pocket should be increased to 7 bays by constructing a new divide wall, and (c) Silt Excluder should be constructed perpendicular to the Barrage in front off Ghotki and Rainee Canal Head Regulators.

The WAPDA documents further state that on 17th January, 2005, Secretary, Irrigation & Power Department, Government of Sindh, conveyed concurrence for carrying out the works: (a) extension of existing left divide wall, (b) provision of silt excluder, and (c) River Training works to centralize river flow.

On the other hand, Secretary Irrigation, Sindh, Shuja Jenejo, while talking to FP, out rightly rejected the stand of WAPDA that:” he ever gave concurrence to extend the existing divide wall”. He said, the position taken by WAPDA was ridiculous as their said stand was based on the premise that Chief Engineer Guddu Barrage sent a letter to him (Secretary Irrigation) by which he gave concurrence to the extension to the existing divide wall. He said, firstly even he did not receive any such letter from the Chief Engineer. Moreover, he said that only Provincial Secretary but not a Chief Engineer is competent to give such concurrence.

According to Sindh’s Secretary irrigation, Sindh Government had agreed with the proposal to construct divide wall as was conceived in Nadipur study. He said, Sindh Government did never approve the extension of that divide wall. Besides, he contended that Sindh Government had proposed to construct the divide wall at 7th Span for 1200 ft. while WAPDA has constructed divide wall at 4th Span instead of 7th Span. He said, it was not acceptable to Sindh. He contended that if divide wall was extended then water supply through Ghotki Canal would be affected miserably.

Meanwhile, the independent irrigation experts have strong reservations on the construction of Reni Canal Herad Regulator in the main protective bund near the Head Regulator of Ghotki Canal. As against that, they said, originally it was conceived that the Head Regulator of Reni Canal would be constructed in the Marginal Bund at a distance from the Head Regulator of Ghotki Canal so that the supply through Ghotki Canal is not affected with the operation of Reni Canal.

In the meantime, recently a general body meeting of the chairmen of 62 Farmers Organisations of Ghotki was held in Ghotki, which, through a unanimous resolution, rejected the extension of existing divide wall near Ghotki Canal Head Regulator.

G.N. Mughul is a senior Journalist of Sindh. He is currently working with English daily of Pakistan, The Frontier Post. He can be reached at gnmughul@yahoo.com

Courtesy: The Frontier Post

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