Demo at Sukkur Barrage: Balochistan growers join protest for water

Post Source:  BAWN – Correspondent

Wednesday, 07 Jul, 2010

SUKKUR, July 6: Hundreds of farmers from upper Sindh and adjoining areas of Balochistan demonstrated at Sukkur Barrage on Tuesday in protest against shortage of water and its theft by influential landlords. Growers from Kandhkot, Jacobabad, Larkana, Qambar, Shahdad Kot and adjoining areas of Balochistan, led by Abadgar Action Committee President Ishaq Mughairi, came to Sukkur in vehicles and staged a protest demonstration in front of the office of the Executive Engineer, Irrigation, Sukkur Barrage, Zareef Khero, at the barrage. The protesters also blocked the road near the barrage as a result of which traffic between Sukkur and other parts of the country remained suspended for couple of hours.

They were shouting slogans against shortage of water, particularly at tail-ends of different canals, officers of irrigation department and water thieves.

Talking to the reporters, Atta Mohammad, Abdul Raheem, Abdul Khalique and Wajid Ali, protesters said that water theft was badly affecting small growers and accused the irrigation staff of being involved in theft of water. As a result of theft of water, farmers have shifted to other areas and left behind their lands as they can not cultivate crops in absence of water.

They said that due to non-availability of water, it was almost impossible to cultivate plant paddy.

They blamed the chief engineers of Sukkur and Guddu Barrages for non-supplying of irrigation water. They demanded of the government to post only one chief engineer for Sukkur Barrage, saying that two chief engineers for left and right banks of the river were complicating the situation.

They urged the elected representatives of their areas to raise water shortage issue in the parliament.

XEN Zareef Khero came out of his office, met with the office-bearers of Abadgar Action Committee who demanded adequate water supply, deployment of Rangers along canals to control theft of water, removal of illegal pipelines and dismantling of unauthorised watercourses.

When contacted, the XEN denied that irrigation officials helped influential landlords steal water. He said that water was being supplied without any discrimination adding that when flow of water would be increased from upcountry, it would be supplied in accordance with the demand of growers.

He said that a summary had already been sent to the higher authorities about the demands of the farmers, including deployment of Rangers along the canals and when the approval is accorded by the Sindh Secretary Irrigation, Rangers would be deployed at the places where theft of water is indicated by the growers.

He said that the growers would not be allowed to damage the office record and other furniture.

However, they are ready to negotiate with them about solving their problems but whenever farmers would come in shape of a mob, security arrangements would be tightened.

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