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Friday July 19, 2024

Haleem blames Sukkur Barrage gate collapse on ‘corrupt’ irrigation dept

By Our Correspondent
June 23, 2024
Haleem Adil Sheikh, Sindh PTI president and former leader of the opposition in the Sindh Assembly gestures while speaking via video message on June 22, 2024. — Screengrab via Facebook/Haleem Adil Sheikh
Haleem Adil Sheikh, Sindh PTI president and former leader of the opposition in the Sindh Assembly gestures while speaking via video message on June 22, 2024. — Screengrab via Facebook/Haleem Adil Sheikh

The collapse of a gate of the Sukkur Barrage on Saturday was not merely a result of it getting gradually weakened by natural causes as corruption in the irrigation department also played a role in the gate’s collapse.

Haleem Adil Sheikh, Sindh Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) president and former leader of the opposition in the Sindh Assembly, said this on Saturday as he reacted to the barrage gate collapse incident.

He called for a thorough investigation into the incident and action against those involved. He also hinted that the PTI may take the matter to the Sindh High Court.

“The gate didn’t simply break. It was broken. Corrupt officers are responsible for this, and there needs to be accountability,” the PTI provincial chief remarked. He highlighted the severity of the incident by drawing parallels with previous flood-related infrastructure failures.

Pointing out the improbability of a gate made of 35 tons of material breaking due to water pressure, Sheikh recalled that in 2010-2011, 1.15 million cusecs of water passed through the Sukkur Barrage without causing any damage. He alleged that the gate was intentionally damaged, posing a threat to 8 million acres of agricultural land in Sindh.

He criticised the irrigation department’s handling of funds, noting that billions were allocated annually for maintenance and repairs, yet no substantial work was carried out. He questioned the allocation of funds accusing the irrigation department’s officials of corruption.

Reflecting on the history of the Sukkur Barrage, the PTI leader mentioned that it was constructed between 1923 and 1932 and had since been neglected. Sheikh highlighted that the Sukkur Barrage regulated seven canals: Nara Canal, Rohri Canal, Khairpur East and West canals, Dadu Canal, Rice Canal and Kirthar Canal.

He said these canals irrigated half of Sindh.

Sheikh also brought attention to the Sindh Barrage Improvement Project, which received substantial funding. He claimed that despite Rs47 billion being allocated and doors being ordered from a Chinese company, only Gate No 37 had been completed in the past three years. He accused the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) of exploiting disasters for foreign aid.

He held the Sindh government and irrigation department responsible for the deteriorating state of the Sukkur Barrage. He noted that farmers were already suffering from water shortages and criticised the government's inadequate flood preparedness.

He said the PTI planned to file a petition in the Sindh High Court and organise protests to prevent further damage to Sindh's agriculture and hold corrupt officials accountable.