By Dr Ali AKbar Dhakan
In 1989, I visited Chashma Canal about 40 kms away from D.I Khan in NWFP towards north and 25 kms from Mianwali towards west in the punjab province… At the distance of one furlong from the gates upstream, I wondered to see that the water touched the tops of the gates and it looked as if the gates were about to break as all the gates were closed and no drop of water was flowing downstream of the gates looked dry and arid.So at that time I felt that the whole water of the canal was used as the reservoir at the upper side of the project in the Punjab and the Indus river remained arid and dry not during only the off season or winter but also during the season of summer or abkalani period. It is because of closure of all gates downstream, the shortage of water occur in the Indus River making the Sindh land barren and arid even during the summer season when the water in greater quantity flows due to melting of snow in all the mountainous areas of Pakistan.The chashma Barrage wet land site located Indus monsoon Forest comprises of a large barrage, a water storage reservoir and a series of embankments, serving as flood bounds which divides the reservoir into five shallow lakes at low water level Chashma Hydro power project is located on the right abutment of Chashma barrage on the Indus River near the village Chashma in the Mianwali district about 304 Kms northwest of Lahore. The project was estimated at Rs.18 billion including foreign exchange component of more than Rs.9 billion.Not only the constructing left Bank project, the water became very much scant in the downstream Indus river but it became more harmful for the Sindh when the Chashma right bank irrigation project was started in 1970 with a feasibility study by WAPDA to irrigate 14174 hectare in D.I Khan(NWFP) and 7075 hectare in D.I Khan Punjab.The actual construction of the canal was started in 1978 and completed in 1987.The other reason of shortage of water in Indus River was the Taunsa Barrage on the river Indus which was completed in 1958 to divert water to two large areas on the left and right banks of the river making irrigated agriculture possible for about 1.18 Mha of this arid landscape in Punjab province. These both projects of Irrigation on Indus river are the main reasons for making the Indus River arid and dry and have turned the Sindh Land barren and uncultivated since 2-3 decades.It is why the whole bed of the Indus River has been heaps of sand and created problems of cultivating and producing various seasonal crops in whole Sindh.Not only these two projects have been proved harmful for Sindh but the Indus basin Treaty with India in 1960 by the first Dictator regime of Pakistan under the leadership of Ayub whose Marshalaw caused the breakup of the country after his ruler ship of 10 years.
Now the question arises as to why not the then leaders and politicians of Sindh raised voice to establish such harmful projects of irrigation on the Indus River and still it is being planned to establish more such projects on the Indus which if constructed will surely turn the whole Sindh province in total dryness and aridness causing more erosion of the land of Sindh province by the Indian Ocean at its coastal areas spreading many kms of the land at the upper side of the ocean.
January 17, 2010