Drains and Boats and Plains

21 Jan 2008

The livelihoods of hundreds of families of fisherfolk, farmers and herders in the Indus delta are being devastated by a freshwater shortage. The Indus River, Pakistan’s chief water supply, is now receding, forcing plainland communities downstream of Kotri into other regions.

An alliance to fight the alarming situation was formed at a recent meeting, presided over by the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum’s Mohammed Ali Shah. The coalition includes around 20 civilian organizations protesting against pollution, water shortages and the livelihood of marginalized communities.

Activists have expressed misgivings over the government’s leasing of forest land in the Thatta district —which plays a crucial role in protecting the region during the flood season — to outsiders. It is feared that the clearing of this land for cultivation or other purposes will bring further devastation and lead to a massive disaster in the future.

The meeting in question also discussed Right Bank Outfall Drain (RBOD), the World Bank project to transport agricultural and industrial waste from northern parts of the country to the sea via the major lakes of Manchhar, Keenjhar, and Haleji.

The lakes provide a significant source of income for fishing communities, and the project has left many fisherfolk out of work, forcing hundreds of families to migrate.

Activists are demanding that the government take action to save the livelihood of these people, arguing that, if any potential development project fails to consult all stakeholders, it risks bringing further disaster to the district’s local communities.

During the meeting, a coordinating community was formed to contact all stakeholders to seek an agreeable solution of the issues raised.

The International News

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