Published On: Fri, Dec 4th, 2015

Death of the Indus Delta

Zulfiqar Kunbhar

THATTA, SINDH: Muhammad Ameen, a fisherman in his early twenties living in Thatta’s Allah Dino Patel village says his village has submerged into the sea at least twice during the last one decade. Sea intrusion has not only forced the dwellers to migrate but also resulted in freshwater being replaced with brackish seawater.

Situated on Hajamro Creek, dwellers of Allah Dino Patel village, which is 150kms from Karachi, are living below the poverty line.

Over the years, due to sea rise, several settlements along the Indus Delta have come under water. As a result, thousands of fishermen have migrated to distant areas.

“I remember river water was sweet once upon a time. But since it has been intruded by the sea, water is undrinkable now,” Ameen tells The Nature News.

He says for the last few years, people waited during monsoon for floodwater, which could be later used for household and drinking purposes. But now, all water is brackish.

To fulfil household needs, every day Ameen or one of his family members has to fetch water from the nearby town, Sajan Wari. The time-consuming duty means he has to compromise on his regular job.

“We purchase four pitchers of water for Rs50 each on a daily basis. When it is our turn to wash the clothes, the need and money increases three times,” Ameen says. “Although fishing is our bread and butter, anyone who fetches water has to compromise his livelihood for that specific day.”

Scarcity of freshwater is highly attributed to the construction of barrages along the River Indus, which lessens the supply of water to the downstream Kotri Barrage, where river meets the Arabian Sea. Hence, less water is available to the communities residing near the delta.

Because of the worsening situation, Islamabad signed an accord in 1991 with the provincial governments, including that of Sindh, according to which, annually 10 million acre feet (MAF) water will be released to the Kotri downstream.

Chairperson Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum Muhammad Ali Shah says that despite a need of 35 MAF, the agreement has been completely sidelined.

“The water accord should be revised. The situation has gone worse,” he says. “If you want to save the coastal belt from sea intrusion, you would have to release at least 35 MAF water.”

Field Coordinator World Wide Fund for Nature-Pakistan (WWF-P) Ghulam Rasool Khatri says one of the reasons in rise of sea level is the discharge of freshwater into the sea.

Besides global warming, due to building of dams and barrages, water seldom finds its way to the downstream, adds Khatri.

This article has been published in arrangement with NCEJ as part of its training in Thatta on “Reporting impacts of climate change on communities”

About the Author


Displaying 1 Comments
Have Your Say

Leave a comment

XHTML: You can use these html tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Connect with us on social networks
Recommend on Google

Visit us on Google+