Mohammad Hussain Khan
KARACHI, April 28, 2011: WORK on repair and strengthening of
dykes all over Sindh where breaches had occurred during last
year’s flash floods is in full swing.
A part of the committed fund of Rs5 billion has been
released by the federal government to help complete
rehabilitation of irrigation system before the end of May —
a month that marks the beginning of Kharif season in the
A large number of breaches had occurred in the canal system
as a result of two major breaches or overtopping of
floodwater, one at Tori in Kandhkot downstream Guddu barrage
and the second at Kot Almo in Thatta district downstream
The Kharif season starts next month. The farmers of lower
Sindh will go for rice cultivation in May and in upper Sindh
in June. Last year non-availability of water had badly
affected Kharif cultivation till it was available in July.
And then the sudden change in weather made things
complicated for farmers. Heavy monsoon followed by flash
floods caused massive damages to paddy nurseries.
Sabzoi village is located in the katcha area of Kandhkot
near the site of Tori breach. One of its residents, Ghulam
Yasin Sabzoi, expressed satisfaction over the work that is
going on at the Tori breach site. He said that work would
hopefully be completed in time. “We would have criticised
the authorities had we not been satisfied with the pace of
work,” he explains.
According to Sindh irrigation secretary Rafiq Memon, who
retired on April 18, the overall position of completed
repair work is around 30-32 per cent. Talking specifically
about Tori breach site, he said 50 per cent of the work has
been carried out. Number of machines has been increased by
contractors as funds have been transferred to provincial
government’s kitty by the federal government. Out of Rs5
billion, around Rs3 billion has been released whereas
expenditure of Rs500-600 million has so far been made.
He is hopeful that the soft loan granted by the Asian
Development Bank (ADB) will also be available soon. “We will
be able to complete our works by May 31,” he says.
All embankments where breaches had occurred would be raised
by six feet in addition to their original height. The
authorities have recorded the level of floodwater at banks
which had breached and these have to be raised by six feet
further in addition to its actual height. Breach has been
plugged at Kot Almo in Thatta. Earthwork has been done on
the site and floodwater accumulated there cleared. The bund
is being strengthened now.
The consulting firm is overseeing repair and strengthening
work at major sites. Idris Rajput, who was awarded
consultancy of the project by the Sindh government for Rs100
million, is also satisfied with the pace of work.
Rajput says the work is to be completed within the
stipulated time. Nothing could be said with certainty about
next flood season, he says. Everything depends on climatic
conditions”. Height of bunds is being raised accordingly at
all sites of breaches. For instance Aqil Agani loop bund is
a sensitive location in Larkana. The width of its apron is
to be raised by 50ft. A 260ft spur is also to be built of
which 50ft has been completed,” he adds.
Growers expect the work to be completed by May so that water
availability is ensured for the cultivation of rice. They
suffered badly due to abnormal weather conditions last year
which destroyed their paddy crop and then the floods
completely ruined it. They point out that strengthening of
loop bunds to protect areas from floodwater is also equally
necessary in case water overtopped from the main river
bunds. They are of the view that loop bunds are not being
given priority in repair works.
Nadeem Shah, a grower from Thatta, said that breaches in
Daro branch, which emanates from Pinyari canal in the area,
and Kheeral minor have been plugged. “Some works relating to
regulators are pending and hopefully will be completed at
the earliest,” says Shah, who suffered enormous losses in
Thatta after Kot Almo breach.
Larkana-based Syed Gadda Hussain Mahesar says loop bunds are
not being repaired. “These play an important role in
containing floodwater in case of breaches at main
embankment,” he argues. He is concerned about strengthening
of branches and minors of irrigation department which were
damaged during floods.
Mahesar specifically refers to Saifullah Magsi, Kirthar,
Begari and tail end of Rice canal where work is under
progress. “If these are not strengthened the farmers will
miss Kharif crop,” he says. He underscores the need for
their strengthening as these minors and branches have to
carry water to agricultural lands.
Courtesy: The DAWN