Indus is a mighty river flowing in this region of the world, sustaining life here for thousands of years with its elegance and might of roaring water. An eternal life giver is now facing a challenging time.After passing through other parts of Pakistan it enters Sindh where it divides into branches and takes scores of routes to flow into the Arabian Sea. This delta region of Indus river that was once prosperous and rich with the diversity of life now looks like a desert region.The Indus River Delta forms where the Indus River flows into the Arabian Sea, mostly in the southern Sindh province. The delta covers an area of about 16,000 square miles. It is home to the largest arid mangrove forests in the world, as well as many birds, fish, and the rare Indus dolphin. All over the world, rivers naturally flow into the sea. But out here, it is the sea flowing into the Indus Delta.It is a unique coastal system where the sea and the river meet and the soil was very fertile due to the accumulation of silt from the river for thousands of years. But after the diversion of the upstream water, the amount of silt has become less while bringing up various threats to the delta. It included 17 major creaks starting from the Gizri Creek to Sir Creek. The government of Pakistan must establish an Indus Delta rehabilitation programDue to the diversion, there is less fresh water flow in the delta now which is a man-made disaster. Meanwhile, the rise in sea level is due to climate change, which is again man-made if we go into the depth. And because of the sea intrusion, the land is losing its fertility. The reduction in groundwater has hurt agriculture. Farmers used to grow red rice here, which is no longer possible.Presently, statics received that the agricultural land of District Thatta, Sajawal, and Badin is severely affected due to lack of water from Kotri downstream. If downstream water is not released properly then chances are that Hyderabad, Tando Muhammad Khan, and Mirpurkhas will also suffer. The study is published in a UK-based journal. It’s the third study conducted to examine water quality within these designated areas and the first to evaluate pollution levels in the creek system.Thirty-six samples collected during six field surveys were analysed for heavy metal contents such as arsenic, cadmium, lead, and zinc as well as for cyanide, oil and grease, biochemical oxygen demand, dissolved oxygen, total phosphate, phenol, and total organic carbon values. The objective was to assess levels of pollution in the Indus delta creek system. The results of another investigation into surface water contamination revealed that water was not suitable for drinking as per WHO guidelines and National Standards for Drinking Water Quality Pakistan.It is not sweet water which is going into the sea. It is precious agricultural land of Pakistan that has been devoured by the sea. As information collected that 2.5 million acres of Thatta, Sajawal and Badin districts had already been lost and the studies pointed out that if sea intrusion was not effectively checked, the sea would reach the city of Thatta by 2050.If 32 Million Acre Feet (MAF) of fresh water per year were actually going into the sea, we would not be facing the problem of sea intrusion. The fact is that even the 10 MAF release downstream Kotri agreed upon as an interim measure pending detailed studies in the inter-provincial water accord was not being provided.As a result, the mangrove population in tidal flood plains and fish and shrimp production have been hurt as grazing land for livestock has also become scarce and the animals had to migrate. With the animals leaving, humans too have moved due to an increased lack of livelihood, placing additional pressure on urban cities.Pakistan is a signatory to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. The Indus Delta is also a signified Ramsar site which should have been taken special care of as it has national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, and an important ecosystem. Another harm done to the Indus Delta was the destruction of the mangrove forests, which provided a natural shield against cyclones and tsunamis.Among the researcher’s recommendations were revisiting the water accord of 1991 by incorporating the environmental flow concept and declaring the Indus Delta as the fifth shareholder of water distribution, besides the four provinces.The government of Pakistan must establish an Indus Delta rehabilitation program. It should also ensure at least 10 million acre-feet water downstream Kotri Barrage immediately until stabilisation as the precise amount of water is accessed through a detailed study. A comprehensive assessment of losses must be carried out and communities provided adequate compensation. Moreover, a development plan should be launched while recognising the communities rights over all the natural resources.Experts suggest increasing the flow of the freshwater of the river in the delta region to prevent the advancement of seawater and protect the region.The writer is a retired doctor of the Sindh Health DepartmentPublished in Daily Times, March 20th 2019.