All wells, water storage ponds turn saline in deltaic region

August 23, 2014 Off By Web Desk

KARACHI: Fishermen residing in the remote coastal villages in the Indus Delta do not know how many wells and fresh water ponds in their villages have turned saline. They cannot say the exact reason, which has put them vulnerable to face hardships. Similarly, the government authorities have failed to conduct any detailed study to find out if sea level rise due to climate change is the reason behind this changing situation.

Hundreds of families either have migrated to Karachi and other urban centers or looking ready to shift sooner or later, justifying that the water scarcity has made their life miserable. The community elders have the same stories of prosperous past and the worsening situation of today.

Mohammed Ali Shah, chairperson Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) is presently leading the campaign to save the life and livelihoods of coastal communities, saying “We are inviting marine scientists to discuss impacts of sea intrusion and destruction of Indus delta.”

Scientists and oceanographers may tell the community people how to work together to avert the disaster of displacement and destruction in Delta, he said.  

PFF is going to organize a dialogue on ‘Sea intrusion and destruction of Indus delta’ at Thatta Press Club on August 25, 2014 morning, in which community elders together with marine scientists and researchers will share their findings and solutions.

Indus delta, once the magnificent creation of the mighty River Indus, the most prosperous, fertile and beautiful piece of land now is the symbol of destruction, as hundreds of families have migrated their ancestral abodes due to sea intrusion.

Gulab Shah, a local activist recalling the past happy days, said Indus Delta people used to depend on livestock, agricultural, producing variety of fruits, and fish catch for their livelihoods. However, there has come an unfortunate man-made turn of events that drastically decreased the flow of water into the delta and subsequently destroyed it and changed its landscapes.

Before the development of an irrigation system on the River Indus, the entire flow passed through Sindh’s plains to the Arabian Sea, culminating into 17 branches called creeks and forming the seventh largest delta of the world. An annual flow of over 180 Million Acre feet (MAF) carrying a silt load of about 440 million tons passed through Indus to the Arabian Sea. This vast flood plain area followed the course of the River Indus, extending 5 to 160 km. on either side. 

PFF leadership believes that now the worst losses that have been incurred are sea intrusion and subsequent socio, economic, ecological and human crisis in delta. It has critically affected human settlements, agriculture, livestock and flora and fauna. It has deprived the deltaic people of right to food, water, and shelter.

It seems as if the case of Indus delta no more on priority list of policy makers and political parties, which nominate their candidates to travel the remote area for getting votes once five years, making promises and then forget them and breached their promises. PFF community elders say it is the time to get the elected representatives and parliamentarians realized to save delta and save the human life and save the ecology through comprehensive plans.

According to World Meteorological Organization, 97.5% of all the water on earth is saline. The separation between saline and fresh water is delicate, so saline water can intrude into fresh water resources.

Mangrove forests were the guardians of the sea shore. Unfortunately most of the mangrove forests were uprooted. Large-scale development activities in the coastal region are another reason. Climate change is a phenomena created by men, not by nature.

People recalling the past say that villagers have traditionally used groundwater for all their needs. Now they have a problem – their wells have turned saline.

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