March 2012 – SINDH DELEGATION PRESENTATION AT “FAME”:Forum Alternatif Mondiale de l’Eau Alternative World Water Forum, Marseille, France
Mr Naseer Memon, Irrigation Engineer and Social Scientist and Ms Humaira Rahman, General Secretary , World Sindhi Institue
The Sindh Delegation presented the “Case of Sindh” via a power point presentation that was projected on a large screen. Approximately 55 delegates to FAME were present and keenly heard and watched the presentation.
The slides began by locating Sindh, an area populated by approximately 40 million people, in a map of South Asia. Many facts and figures were presented to substantiate the summary narrative presented below.
Sindh is a deltaic region and South Eastern Province of Pakistan , one of the 4 provinces that make up the Federation. It is irrigated since millennia by the River Indus of which it is the lowest riparian. The river Indus originates in the high lands of Tibet and flows through the length of Pkaistan before emptying itself at the coast of Sindh , into the Arabian Sea, which is part of the Indian Ocean.
In 1947 when the state of Pakistan was created , the River Indus already had an extensive network of irrigation channels through which the entire Indus River Basin was irrigated. However these barrages and canals allowed the Indus River to run more or less unfettered and an average of 94 million acre feet , would run into the sea annually. This kept the eco system alive and robust , allowing coastal and down river fishing communities and agricultural communities to have a good quality of life. Currently—-other than during acute flood conditions—-on average , less than 7 Million Acre Feet run into the sea. Rapid desertification and destruction of breeding grounds of essential food sources is underway. Riverine forests of mangroves and other species are being depleted and destroyed at an alarming rate. Many species are getting extinct.
Since Pakistan came into existence, and at the behest of the World Bank and with the collusion of unrepresentative governments (military inspired dictatorships and quasi civilian governments) 2 mega dams, the MANGLA and the TARBELA and a number of other structures were constructed on the River Indus in the decade of the 1960s. Mostly located in the northern provinces of Punjab and Khyber Pukhtunkhwa, they benefitted the northern areas and its people at the cost of the people of Sindh. The Mega Dams and barragesreduced the flow of the River through Sindh drastically.
Over the years the eco system was destroyed and entire communities were displaced and rendered impoverished. The representatives of the Sindhi nation [the Lowest Riparian] were not consulted and neither did they endorse the plans to construct the Mega dams or the other structures.
At present the waters of the Indus River Basin are shared through and intricate formula arrived at in 1990. This accord once again did not take into consideration the aspirations of the people of Sindh. Even now due to the centralized mis management of the waters of the Indus, the upper riparians are privileged at the cost of the lower riparian Sindh.
As such Sindh oscillates between acute water shortage conditions or excessive flood conditions that bring misery and poverty. Sindh has been declared a Famine Hotspot by the United Nations and the Sindhi nation that depends on this life giving Indus River, are suffering acutely.
There are endemic health and employment issues that may continue to render the majority of the Sindhi Nation, destitute. The Sindh nation regards this as Eco-Terrorism and appeals to the international community that participated in FAME , to weigh in and pressurize the Pakistan Government and its friends and allies to take this matter seriously and convene an international conference on Sindh and its Riverine People of the Indus, before it is too late too save this current generation of children of Sindh.