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Special Report:
Flood Crisis

1
 

 
Repair of dykes in full swing

Flood Crisis Home

By 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 province.

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 Kotri barrage.
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

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