14 March, 2012
Karachi: Friends of Indus Forum in collaboration with WWF observed the International Rivers Day and launched two position papers namely Indus River Downstream Kotri and Manchar Lake.
Speaking on the occasion Sindh Irrigation Minister Jam Saifullah Dharejo said that last two years were very significant in terms of studying the impacts of climate change. Pakistan witnessed devastating floods in 2010 and heavy rains in 2011. He elaborated that rehabilitation of disaster affected people and draining out of water were two big challenges for them. He said that natural wetlands are diminishing at faster pace.
Speaking on the occasion, water expert A.N.G. Abbasi said that environmental conditions and ecosystems of Indus Detla have deteriorated to a greater extent and it is very alarming for all concerned people. He further said that comprehensive analysis is needed to estimate the current damage in Indus Delta. He urged that effective water management should be adopted on urgent basis. He further said that no further commitment should be made without keeping in consideration for the environmental needs of delta. He said that dams can only be build when water is surplus, while it is to be withdrawn when you have water shortage. Abbasi said that sea intusion has damaged delta, which could not be restored. He demanded for practical measures to address water crisis.
Mr. Mazhar-ul-Haq Siddiqui, former Vice Chancellor of University of Sindh maintained that people should care about nature and pay great attention to wise and careful utilization of water resources. He said that nature is the excellent example of balance that should not be disturbed at any cost by human beings. He warned of detrimental consequences if people do not change their current habits and life style. He emphasized that people all over the world should follow Tunisians, who use water in a rational way. He suggested that to promote crops consuming less water.
Mr. Karamat Ali Executive Director of PILER said no other species have done great harm to nature than human beings. He demanded that Indus water treaty should be repealed and it is time to implement the recommendations given by water experts.
Mr. Nasir Ali Panhwar General Secretary of the Forum said that the Indus delta, the fifth largest in the world, had undergone severe degradation because of the upstream diversions of River Indus water resulting in what could be termed as one of the worst examples of human interventions in nature.
“Little realization exists about the silent human crisis involving more than one million people, flora and fauna of Pakistan’s vital ecosystems,” he added.
Referring to records from the 19th century, he said, they suggested that freshwater flow to the lower Indus was around 150 MAF a year. But over the past 60 years, particularly after the construction of dams, barrages and reservoirs, the freshwater flow had reduced to less than 30 MAF while silt discharge had reduced to 100 million tonnes a year from some 400 million tonnes a year in the past.
“This has inflicted heavy losses on the ecology, biodiversity, as well as livelihood resources of the Indus delta. The situation got aggravated by projects like the Left Bank Outfall Drain (LBOD) that caused immense damage to the province’s wetlands,” he said.
Mr. Ghulam Mustafa Mirani Forum’s Joint Secretary said the lake located on the eastern foothills of the Kirthar Range was one of the largest freshwater natural lakes in Asia. Once renowned for its beauty and a large population of migratory birds and wild fowl, it was also a rich source of fisheries, he said.It provided livelihood to more than 10,000 households of the fishing community, he said, adding that of them, 2,000 people lived on boats. “However, today it stands as a severely threatened wetland, dying from pollution, toxic effluent and mismanagement,” observed Mr Mirani.
Mr. Rab Nawaz, Director Indus for All Programme gave an overview of WWF Pakistan and highlighted water security issues in the region. He said that collective efforts should be undertaken to address water insecurity and highlight it on different forums. Mr. Ali Dehlavi Project Manager Climate Change Adaptation Project WWF presented vote of thanks, while Ms. Shaida Panhwar Information Secretary Friends of Indus Forum moderated the proceedings.
Documentary was screened to depict the deplorable conditions of Rivers around the world mainly due to large dams. These dams have adversely affected the biodiversity and harmed the indigenous communities. Representatives of government, civil society organizations, academia and media attended the event.
For further Information:
Nasir Ali Panhwar
Programme Management Unit - Karachi
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