Ode to the (once) mighty Indus | Pakistan Today

Ode to the (once) mighty Indus

A colourful gathering along the banks of Indus River to commemorate the International Day of Action for Rivers on Wednesday attracted hundreds of fisherfolk, herders and farmers.
A large number of people from different districts of the province, including Jamshoro, Hyderabad, Sanghar, Umerkot, Badin, Nawabshah and coastal areas of Karachi, thronged the banks of the Indus River near Jamshoro Bridge for the event organised by the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF).
The event began with a song from renowned folk singer Maula Bakhsh Mallah, which he had composed especially to pay tribute to the Indus River. The main objective of the event was to show strength against the building of Bhasha Dam on the Indus River.
The fishing community people had decorated their boats with colourful flags to attract the people for boat rides.
Demanding the government to restore the once mighty river, the participants showered rose petals on the Indus River.
Terming the Bhasha Dam project disastrous for the people living at the tail-end of Indus River, PFF chairman Mohammed Ali Shah appealed to the fisherfolk and farmers to join the PFF’s campaign to oppose the dam.
The campaign will continue throughout the year and a “People’s Caravan” will travel from Thatta to Islamabad to commemorate the International Day of Action for Rivers next year to convey the message to the authorities concerned.
Urging the need for water conservation, Shah said that around one billion people in the world do not have access to potable water and it is feared 2.6 billion people will face acute water shortage by 2025.
He called upon the United Nations to call for a global convention on water and make the countries responsible to ratify laws to ensure conservation of water resources.
“We have led the struggle throughout the country in defence of water and territory to protect the rights of indigenous people, depending on rivers for their livelihoods,” said the PFF chairman. “We recognise water as essential for all life on the planet and oppose the dominant economic model that prescribes privatisation, commercialisation and corporatisation of public and community-owned water and sanitation services.”
“Water nourishes not only our bodies but our spirits and is fundamental to our spiritual lives and cultural practices. Water provides for our traditional means of subsistence, food sovereignty and food security and cannot be privatised,” Shah said.
Centre for Peace and Civil Society (CPSC)’s Jami Chandio said the rights of tail-end Indus River communities living up to Kharo Chhan in the delta should be recognised and the release of water ensured to meet the demand of the people.
“When Kotri Barrage was built it was declared that 1.6 million acres of land will be cultivated downstream. But now due to the receding water, sea intrusion has destroyed 2.4 million acres of fertile land, forcing the communities to leave their ancestral abodes,” he said. “Despite the fact that all major port cities of the world, including Karachi, were initially established by fishermen, these communities have been deprived of their basic rights.”
He said the rights of tail-end communities are guaranteed by the UN laws, which should be ensured.
Upcoming writer Akash Santorai said it was a day the people of the entire province should have come together to show strength against the mega water projects planned on the Indus River, especially the Bhasha Dam.
Others who spoke on the occasion included Saeed Baloch, Punhal Sario of Hari Porhiat Council, Zulfiqar Halepoto, Jabbar Bhatti and Nazeer Qureshi.
The speakers called for democratic and sustainable management of ecosystems and preservation of the integrity of the water cycle and waterways’ rights to flow through the protection and proper management of human use of watersheds and environment.
According to a PFF statement issued on Wednesday, all organisations of fisherfolk, peasants, indigenous people, trade unions, environmental groups, herders, writers, academics, human rights’ advocates, community activists and networks share the vision of water is the fundamental human right.
Calling upon the government to take action to conserve water resources, especially restoration of rivers, the statement added that dams have displaced 80 million people, impoverished millions more and turned fresh water into an ecosystem most affected by biodiversity loss. Large hydropower projects have typically favoured the demands of extractive industries and urban centres over the basic needs of the poor.
The PFF called on the governments and financiers to prioritise the water and energy needs of the poor over the demands of the global market, saying all needs and options are assessed in a balanced, participatory process before new water and energy projects are approved.

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  1. Muhammad Umer Karim said:

    Regarding this news I have few querries, why is it that Eco System of Indus Delta is depleting but Agriculture in River Bed is increasing, why nobody especially Fisher Folk Forum talks abou that, Why nobody points out, use of small gauge net for fifhing in Gharo Creek Areas(Nursery for Palah Fish) causing depletion in Palah Fish.

  2. Sher Bano said:

    I support PFF for their efforts regarding awarness about problems fishing community has been facing but a bigger movement is needed to aware fishing community.Localties,Ibrahim hydri Khadda kaka pir Baba n Bhit islands are gradually coverted into non native fishing communities and the original dwellers are leaving fishing.They should have proper guidance n equipment as they are unaware of modren methodology even they dont know eco friendly species in waters.

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