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Thatta Feb, 25:
The Convener of sub committee of National Assembly standing committee on environment Marvi Memon has said that Indus Delta is significant eco system and 10n MAF water below downstream Kotri is must to curb sea intrusion in the delta. She was speaking at the WWF’s Indus for All Programme site office in Keti Bunder. The member of sub committee, MNA Tayab Hussain was also present on the occasion. She said that socio economic conditions of the people of Indus delta have been badly affected as sea intrusion has not only affected the ecology of the area but people have been deprived of their livelihood. She said that fast depleting mangrove forest would further contribute in degrading this fragile eco system. She urged that the illegal fishing nets should be banned as the poor fishermen are deprived of their only livelihood. She announced that from her MNA fund, Rs five million would be allocated for the development schemes in Keti Bunder and Manchar Lake area. She said that sea has invaded about 1.2 million acres of fertile land of Thatta and adjoining areas and this has been confirmed by the Sindh Revenue department in 1992, she said that more studies are required to document the current damage. She stressed the need to make all efforts to avert the crisis and save the remaining delta.

The Programme Coordinator of WWF’s Indus for All Programme Nasir Ali Panhwar in his presentation highlighted that Indus delta being Ramsar site is home of variety of fish, agriculture, livestock, mangroves and abode of more than two million people. He added that low water in Indus and sea intrusion has caused resource depletion, which has left less opportunity for the area people. He said that all the districts of Sindh in general and those of coastal belt in particular should have a proper land use plan supported by the legislation and the development work should be allowed under this plan to avoid depletion of precious land resources. He suggested that Indus delta rehabilitation programme should be initiated through an independent body and focus with focus on revival of lost species, protection of environment, resettlement of people with opportunities of livelihood and long term coastal zone management. He further said that committee should recommend release of 10 MAF water downstream Kotri immediately, while rapid programme of social services including education, water supply & sanitation micro credit health, disaster preparedness and essential infrastructure should be initiated.

The site manager Indus for All Programme Keti Bunder Zahid Jalbani, informed about different initiatives being undertaken by the Programme including socioeconomic & ecological assessments, development of livelihood and natural resource management plans for the area. He said that vocational center for women have been established in Keti Bunder while provision of wind and solar energy and mangroves rehabilitation has also been undertaken. The committee was briefed about the rehabilitation project activities such as construction of thatched hut houses, provision of water tanker boat, fixed fiber water tanks and repair of fully damaged boats.

Earlier the committee members visited the village Tippan in Hajamaro creek, where they observed the degradation of the delta. They also visited various initiatives of WWF such as mangrove plantation, solar and wind energy system, women vocational centre and met the community to get insight about the problems being faced by them. Abdul Munaf Qaimkhani from Federal Ministry of Environment, Riaz Wagan, Agha Tahir from Sindh Forest Department and Irfan Abbasi from Sindh EPA also accompanied the committee during the visit.

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