Theft unearthed: Sindh losing share as water goes missing

By Sarfaraz Memon

SUKKUR: At least 30,000 cusecs of water a day is unaccounted for between Chashma Barrage and Taunsa Barrage for over a week now, causing a shortage in all three barrages of Sindh.

“The water is either being stolen or is lost since May 30. Whenever fresh water arrives, a three to five per cent loss is factored in as some of it is absorbed by the embankments and some is lost to evaporation but losses of up to 30,000 cusecs is impossible,” a source in the irrigation department told The Express Tribune.

It is a common practice for influential landlords to divert water towards their lands or illegally suck out water through lift machines, particularly between Chashma and Taunsa and Taunsa and Guddu barrages, he said. This theft ultimately translates into a cut in Sindh’s water share and the authorities are doing nothing to curb this practice, he added.

The Sukkur Barrage control room in-charge, Abdul Aziz Soomro, said that they were concerned over as to where this huge quantity of water is going as it will affect the pond level of Guddu and Sukkur Barrage. He, too, said that a loss of 5,000 to 6,000 cusecs is acceptable but 30,000 cusecs is unfathomable.

Explaining the figures, he said that the travel time between Chashma and Taunsa is around two days and the discrepancy in the flow can be worked out by recording the flow downstream Chahsma, say on May 30, and upstream Taunsa on Jun 2.

Giving the overall water situation in Sindh, he said that upstream flow at Guddu Barrage was 83,050 cusecs while downstream it was 67,974 cusecs. At Sukkur Barrage, the flow was 67,240 and 24,250 upstream and downstream respectively while at Kotri the upstream flow stood at 11,936 cusecs. No water was being released downstream Kotri, he added.

A representative of the Indus River System Authority, Rana Khalid, however, expressed his ignorance about the matter and said that action would be initiated as and when they receive a report about the water loss.

Evacuation begins as five villages come under water

The rising water levels in the River Indus have weakened the embankments in Qadirpur katcha areas as a result of which five villages have come under water. The villagers have started vacating their houses to shift to a safer place.

The strong water currents have set in motion the erosion process and have put the embankments in the katcha and Qadirpur loop bund under enormous pressure. The affected villages include Janan Chahcar, Habib Chachar, Qaiser Chachar, Mehar Chahcar and Kando Chachar.

The area is lined by makeshift villages that spring up when the water level recedes. They disappear just as quickly when water level rises. These villages, comprising mainly of katcha houses and huts, are mostly set up by nomadic families in the river beds where they also cultivate vegetables and fruits to earn their livelihood.

Sindh Irrigation and Drainage Authority director Anwar Sial told The Express Tribune that all protective embankments are strong enough to withstand the pressure. He also denied that any erosion has taken place.

Courtesy: The Express Tribune, June 7th, 2013.

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