Byline: Mohammad Hussain Khan
HYDERABAD -- Euphoria over availability of water for cultivation of paddy proved short-lived for tail-end grower Imran Khoso who after having sown the crop is back to square one since Badin is once again in the grip of water shortage like it does every year.
The shortage persists in spite of the fact that Indus river has had plenty of flows even during early Kharif, a period when farmers in lower Sindh need water to sow summer crops. The irrefutable evidence of availability of more than sufficient water in the system is that additional flows are continuously being released downstream Kotri barrage.
According to a Sukkur barrage official, who monitors water flows, downstream flows are indeed a positive sign. 'If there are still complaints from tail-end reaches, it points to mismanagement in water distribution,' he says.
With three off-taking canals, Kotri barrage feeds large areas in Thatta, Badin, Sujawal and Tando Mohammad Khan districts besides catering to drinking water needs of large populations living in Hyderabad and the four districts. Water flows' statistics reflect that downstream flows remained available on a constant level over the past couple of months.
Not only this, but even in the third week of March, Kotri barrage recorded downstream flows which was an indication of the fact that water requirements of all off-taking canals of Sukkur barrage had been met. 'Notwithstanding this, water shortage or rotation programme is not understandable,' says the official.
People in Badin district, especially small and middle level growers, have always been at the receiving end in water distribution, especially when there is shortage at barrages. This time, there is no water shortage at barrages but the shortage persists which indicates mismanagement or water theft in the system.
'We have been able to grow paddy after a long time as our area water board chairman for left bank canals has put in extra efforts to make sure that water reaches our land,' Khoso told Dawn excitedlyin the first week of June at Arain regulator on New Phulelli canal of Kotri barrage.
The left bank canals area water board works under the Sindh Irrigation and Drainage Authority (Sida). The boars is meant to promote participatory irrigation system but the Sida as a water regulator is yet to perform to its full potential, say growers. The irrigation system is still partly controlled by provincial irrigation department and Sida.