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Kharif sowing hit by water shortage    
By Mohammad Hussain Khan

June 06, 2011: KHARIF crops sowing in lower Sindh region, mainly fed by Nara canal system, may be hit by water shortage, while growers’ complaints also abound in different areas of Sukkur barrage. The shortage has forced growers to come out on roads.

The farmers are not ready to believe officials that the so-called irrigation rotational programme will work. The Nara canal feeds Mirpurkhas and Umerkot districts and partially Tharparkar and Sanghar districts besides Khairpur in upper Sindh.

Against 18,000 cusecs of water in previous years, the discharge has come down to 12,800 cusecs. The Nara canal’s carrying capacity has been increased by raising and strengthening its embankments over the years. However, the minors and branches linked to it do not have the strength to bear the pressure of water if it is run with full supply. According to SIDA managing director Mohammad Ehsan Leghari, a rotation programme is therefore necessary.

The water shortage is attributed to mismanagement in distribution system also with reference to direct outlets (DOs). The DOs are given to influential people by the competent authority. Officials say that a DO is to be allowed only rarely and under extremely difficult conditions. Those having DOs always go for 100 per cent cultivation while those at the tail-end are left high and dry. The DOs block flow of water downstream.

“Of the total water availability in the system, 25 per cent is diverted through DOs leaving the officials to handle entire system with only 75 per cent of available water. Then there is system deficiencies and losses which reduce the quantum of available water to a great extent,” claims a sitting official while describing DOs a cancer for irrigation system.


A grower of Matiari Ghulam Rasool Memon complains he is unable to get water for Kharif while sowing is at its peak in his area. He has sown cotton on around 20-50 acres for which water is not available from Matiari minor of Rohri, an off-take canal of Sukkur barrage. The minor feeds tail-end parts of Rohri canal system. Due to rotation programme, water is being supplied alternatively. Those who have not sown cotton are waiting for water to grow vegetable.

Mir Zafarullah Talpur from Mirpurkhas points out that areas in Khairpur Gamboh of Naseer division of Nara canal system and Khatiyan minor of Jamrao canal are badly hit by water shortage. “While water shortage always creates problem, the lands from command area of Jamrao canal is being shifted to Naseer canal’s command which is unlawful,” he alleges.

The persistent water shortage is bound to affect cotton, chilly and sugarcane, sown in October during Rabi season. The areas hit by water shortage are located in Naukot, Umerkot Mirpurkhas and Kunri.


The May 15 breach in Jamrao canal near Khadro town made matters worse for growers of Nara canal system who were going for early Kharif. Once there is a breach, the system takes around two to three weeks to get normalised. The water shortage compelled growers to take to streets.

Protesting growers even resorted to forcible opening of minors and tributaries and authorities had to seek Ranger’s assistance. According to director Nara canal area water board Ghulam Mustafa Ujjan, the deployment of Rangers was sought for safety of system. “They are now fully deployed in Mithrao canal’s command area. Partial deployment is done in Jamrao canal area,” he remarks. He says that system is normal in Mithrao canal’s command while problems are occurring in Jamrao canal’s Kot Ghulam Mohammad and Digri sub-divisions.

Aslam Baloch, a paddy grower, thinks that water supply to areas of Badin, Thatta and Tando Mohammad Khan should have been made for paddy sowing in view of early Kharif in lower Sindh. These areas are fed by Phulelli canal that takes off from Kotri barrage. “I have to cultivate 400 acres for paddy but I am waiting for water supply. Nurseries of paddy are to be readied for transplantation,” he says. He fears low per acre paddy yield if water is not ensured.

Water shortage has hit chilli crop as well. The crop sowing took place around two months back and crop needed one rain that would prove beneficial.;


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