Hyderabad: A long march organized by Pakistan fisher folk forum, which started around a week ago from Dooleh darya Khan Bridge of Indus River at Thatta-Sujawal to protest the upstream diversion of River Indus Water, ended on Tuesday in Hyderabad, demanded to free the river from the manmade obstacles on the Indus.
The participants of the long march, which comprised of women, children and elderly persons who walked on foot for more than 400 kilometers, demanded that at least 35 million acre feet (MAF) water should be released into downstream for the survival of the magnificent River Indus delta.
"Due to reducing flows of water in the downstream, the sea has started eroding land and federal government wants to stop sea erosion by constructing wall, which is a foolish step, we need to release the water in order to stop the sea advancing ," said Syed Muhammed Ali shah, chairman Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF).
Mr shah, held Punjab establishment responsible for the water scarcity in the province. He mocked about the recent announcement made by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who talked to construct a protective wall against sea incursion. Mr. Shah lamented that even the Prime Minister of the country is not aware that no any strong enough wall would help stop the sea incursion but only required water in the delta would help reduce its effects.
The long march, named as "Sindh Awami Caravan" under the theme, "Protection of our rivers and delta" that was started to highlight the "International Rivers Day", traveled through Sujawal, Badin, Umerkot , Sanghar, Nawabsah, Sakrand,Sehwan, Kotri, Jamshoro and other small towns and cities and ended in Hyderabad.
"Due to construction of the dams, the upstream water is diverted and thus not only the delta is dying, but also the inland water (Lakes and other water bodies) are suffering and in near future tens of thousands fishermen will loose their source of livelihood, the fish, said Shah. "Therefore, we strongly oppose the construction of all controversial dams in River Indus, as these dams are destructive for delta, fish recourse and water bodies and also it will harm and ecology and biodiversity,"
He stressed that all water accords including Indus water treaty and 1991 water accord should be restored fully and also that water theft and mismanagement of water should also be considered as an act of terrorism, as water is life and act of snatching water is equal to snatching life from millions of people.
South Asia is the world's second largest dam building region and the States have brought about destruction and disasters for the under-privileged communities. This has degraded the rivers' ecology to the extent that the redressing the balance has become an uphill task. Following the footsteps of the same anti-people and environmentally destructive policies, Pakistan has also destroyed the life of the River Indus through the construction of dams and barrages and has displaced the indigenous people leading to the destruction of Indus Delta the consistent human rights violations.
The Pakistan government has been planning to build more dams on Indus River. The PFF believes that the indigenous people along with the other natural habitats have the basic right to use the land and water first.
Rivers throughout the world are being diverted through massive dams and barrage building. The anatomies of the rivers are being deformed as the silt and the rivers are being enslaved within dams. Resultantly the most beautiful and large deltas are being eliminated the world over.
Indus has been exploited through man-made political maneuvers. The Indus Delta is a prominent part of the anatomy of the river Indus created through its rich silt and soil. The River Indus carrying a silt of 400 million tons along with 180 MAF of water
The PFF campaign demand the Indus River System Authority (IRSA) for reserving at least 35 MAF water downstream Kotri for regeneration of Indus Delta, raising awareness among communities of their water rights and for sensitizing the issue of making dams, diversions and cuts, exploring the factors damaging health of water bodies and rivers that directly affect lives and livelihood of the indigenous people, raising voice for improved water governance and environmental flow of rivers.