Farmers’ protests gaining momentum

Post Source: Dawn Report – 01 Jun, 2010

SUKKUR, May 31: Farmers and political activists blocked the National Highway in Mirpur Mathelo, held demonstrations outside the houses of an MNA and a provincial minister in Shikarpur and observed a strike in Khipro in protest against shortage of water in various channels and minor canals. Farmer protests gain momentum in the aftermath of intensifying shortage of water in rural areas, dealing a severe blow to the agriculture-based economy of Sindh.

Hundreds of peasants and activists of the Sindh United Party (SUP) held a demonstration and staged a sit-in on Monday in Ghotki in protest against shortage of water in various water channels and minor canals of the district.

Carrying placards and banners, they gathered outside the DCO office at the National Highway in Mirpur Mathelo and shouted slogans against the irrigation authorities. Mir Mahar, Mandhal Shar and Syed Lal Shah led the protest.

They accused the irrigation authorities of creating the shortage of water in various Wahs and Minors of the district.

They also burnt tyres and blocked the National Highway for about one hour, suspending vehicular traffic.

The protesting peasants told reporters that cotton and other standing crops were drying in the areas of Allah Yar Minor, Masoo Wah, Old Masoo Wah, Tig Minor, Dahar Wah, Kandeer Shakh and other waterways. If water was not provided in time, growers would suffer a huge loss.

They accused irrigation officials of selling water to the influential landlords of the respective areas.

Sindh Irrigation and Drainage Director Abdul Rasheed Khoso and EDO Revenue Pervez Bullo held talks with the protesting peasants for three hours, but failed to solve the issue.

However, the peasants ended their protest with the warning that they would block the Sindh-Punjab border near Kashmore if water was not released in the canals in 48 hours.

On the JSQM-A call, a complete strike was observed in Khipro in protest against the shortage of irrigation water in Sanghar district. A procession was also taken out from Shaheed chowk to the press club.

Mir Hassan Piarani, president of the local chapter of the JSQM-A, Niaz Mari, Qaim Din Shar, Mashooq Bhambhro and Arshad Arisar alleged that the shortage of water was created to destroy agriculture in Sindh.

Mr Piarani said that 70 per cent of land could not be cultivated due to non-availability of water. Land was prepared for cotton but farmers were not able to plant cotton.

The few acres where cotton had been sown, plants were dying due to water shortage, they said.

He said the water was being stolen to deprive farmers in Sindh of their share of water.

Dhalyar, Pithoro and towns in the peripheries also remained closed due to strike call.

In Shikarpur, activists of the Jeay Sindh Mahaz took out a procession and held a demonstration outside the residence of MNA Aftab Shaban Mirani and Sindh minister Agha Taimur Khan to record their protest against water shortage.

Financial secretary JSM Abid Hyderi and district president Asadullah held a meeting with MNA Mirani and called upon him to raise voice against the shortage of water in the National Assembly.

Mr Mirani assured the JSM leaders that he would try to get water shortage issue settled on the floor.

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