Manchar A fast dying Lake of Sindh

by Shafqat Hussain, Sukkur, Sindh

Courtesy: Daily Dawn, 22.10.09

While discussing hazards of environmental contamination faced by the metropolis, the Minister for Environment Sindh disclosed before the provincial assembly question answer session some serious threats our sweet water lakes are facing. He stated that Manchar, the biggest shallow water natural Lake of Pakistan, situated at district Dadu is dying fast because of high ratio of lead contents added contentiously in its waters.

This natural lake is a vast depression flanked by the Khirthar hills in the west, the Laki hills in the south and the river Indus in the east. At the time of heavy rainfall the lake extends northwest with the result that it covers an area of about 100 Sq. miles or nearly 64000 acres. Manchar being a large natural body of fresh water is a major resource in an arid region of western Sindh. Before its pollution, Manchar helped to maintain various economic activities of the region substantially. It provided livelihood for large number of fishermen families and supplied irrigation water to various crops spread over vast area besides a great source of aquatic plants including lotus and temporary abode for migratory birds coming from the north. The lake could have even contributed a lot in boosting up tourism industry had its beautification was adequately maintained.

Unfortunately increased human activities sans proper maintenance degraded the lake significantly. The proverbial role of ‘last nail in the coffin’ was played by construction of most criticized Right Bank Outfall Drainage-I (RBOD-I) that brought highly contaminated and saline water from Baluchistan in the main Lake. This mindless act of authorities not only destroyed the lake by toxic discharge but has become a perpetual source of poisoning even Indus when this contaminated overflowing water is released in the River during monsoon.

The country presently is facing severe water shortage which in the approaching times will be extremely grave because of abnormal melting of Himalayan glaciers and less than normal rainfalls as forecast by the metrological department; again thanks to deforestation of province done by landlords with the active connivance of forest authorities. At this critical juncture destruction of Lakes like Manchar will cause another blow of colossal proportion to our already dwindling sweet water resources.

Looking to the enormity of problem government must complete second phase of RBOD expeditiously and also form a team of high-powered team of experts on water, involving local NGOs to survey all the lakes of province including Manchar and recommend appropriate suggestions so as to reclaim these sweet water resources without delay.

One thought on “Manchar A fast dying Lake of Sindh”

  1. The mighty river Indus that originates from the mountainous terrain in Kashmir flows down the planes in Kashmir through to the vast swathes of fertile Punjab plains into the upper Sindh ranges and then on its destined fall into the Indian Ocean traversing through the Sindh province. Located at the fag end of its course to the Indian Ocean, how can the province claim the River its own – based on the translated name? India has constructed Dams to preserve much of the Indus water and whatever little that flows out peripherally, enters Pakistan irrigating the fertile Punjab that feeds Pakistan and is rightly called the ” the Granary of Pakistan”. The first Atomic Power generating plant was installed in Karachi and Punjab never complained, knowing well that geography and topography are vital for the optimal functioning of the Plant. The energy generation would benefit Karachi and Sindh and thus many Industries were attracted to the green pastures. Similarly, the geography of locations for Dams favored Kala Bagh or other suitable sites in Punjab, which becomes a bone of contention for some myopic activists in Sindh and Balochistan. PPP, a brain child of ZAB was espoused by many political thinkers from Punjab Mairaj Khalid, Hanif Ramay, Wyne, Mubashhar, Aitezaz Ahsan and others played their pivotal role giving the Party, strength, shape, slogan, spirit and direction. But soon they were sidelined by a self-seeking, strong willed and eloquent ZAB. And soon the Sindhi politics and provincialism gained grounds to perpetuate Bhuttoism. This cult is given credence by the Jiyala Sindh Assembly Speaker Nisar Khuro, who said, “The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has always stood for the rights of the people of Sindh. The water issue is not new, and we will not let the people of Sindh to be deprived of their rights,” he said. People under stress of adversity or strangulation of anguish, often speak their hearts out and the Speaker of the Sindh Assembly vented the prime policy of PPP that its chemistry lies in its firm roots in Sindh, with followers in Punjab, Sarhad and Balochistan in varying degrees. The hierarchy of PPP suffers from a syndrome deciphered by its symptoms of ailment – a combination of arrogance and incompetence. IRSA is the institution to adjudicate disputes about water management. Let them give their considered and circumspect judgment. Why preempt the issue and raise unfounded misgivings?
    “Penny wise pound foolish”. That is what the leaders of Sindh are. There is a large storage dam planned and lying in Wapda’s archives since last 43 years, which is capable of making the entire Sindh and its Indus delta region, the real paradise on earth. It is the largest storage dam of the world and can store almost 40% water that flows in River Indus during the entire year, including floods. It will take several years to fill and will have almost unlimited useful life. Located in the uninhabited desert region of the lower Punjab, it can be built at very little unit cost of storage and will have almost exclusive rights to use by Sindh. Besides, it will transform Indus delta region through concerted development program into a “Holland of Pakistan” by building dykes along the sea-encroached lands and installing “Wind-Mills” pumping out sea water from the prepared polders and simultaneously washing the polders with water released from the storage dam sequentially, to reclaim the soils. The job could have been long completed, had the mindless leaders capable only of finding faults with other and breeding their own doom in process, made sensible demands based upon the prepared plans, which no Pakistani could have objected to. Still, if some able and like-minded people of Pakistan could sit together to rebuild priority plans and start efforts in earnest, we can make wonders in the area, within a short time.

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