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PA asks SC to take notice of Indus delta erosion

By Azeem Samar
April 10, 2018

Expressing concerns over sea intrusion eroding the Indus delta, the Sindh Assembly on Monday unanimously passed a resolution urging the Supreme Court to take suo motu notice of the situation and to summon the Indus River System Authority (IRSA) and other relevant federal authorities for explanation.

The resolution was presented in the first sitting of the new session by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Nisar Khuhro. It was unanimously passed by the treasury and the opposition.

“The House expresses its grave concern on the failure and apathy of IRSA to check continuing and accelerating erosion of most fertile coastal land of Indus delta by the sea,” states the draft of the resolution.

“In the absence of sufficient outflows to the sea, already an estimated 2.4 million acres of Sindh’s coastal land has gone under the sea. The coming rough conditions of the sea during the six months are expected to devour thousands of acres more of our precious land.

“Under the Inter-Provincial Water Accord of 1991, IRSA is duty-bound to ensure the outflow to the sea of sufficient quantities of water to check sea erosion. In the post Tarbela period, Indus delta has suffered on a large scale due to the shortage of freshwater flowing into the sea.

“For the last 25 years IRSA has failed even to determine the quantity of outflow of freshwater that would check sea erosion. It sadly continues to ignore the problem while crops, orchards and coastal villages are rapidly going under the sea, and millions of those whose forefathers had been living in the most fertile land for centuries have been forced to migrate.

“The House is of the opinion that this disaster is entirely man-made and has been caused by the sheer negligence and apathy of federal institutions. The land that has gone under the sea is an island of Pakistan. The people living in the coastal areas of Sindh are citizens of Pakistan.

“Basic human rights of these millions of Pakistanis are being continuously violated. The House respectfully expresses the hope that the honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan shall take due notice of this man-made disaster and summon IRSA and other connected federal authorities to explain their gross negligence.”

The resolution also asked the SC-appointed judicial commission on water issues to take notice of the “constant menace of discharge of industrial effluents from Punjab into Sindh”.

Khuhro said Sindh’s people have committed no crime that they should be made to suffer for freshwater in such a grave manner, adding that those living in the tail-end areas of the Indus River have first and foremost right on the river’s water.

He said Sindh has been facing a shortage of river water by 75 per cent as the province is not being given its share from the Indus River. Serious shortage of inflow of river water to tail-end areas of the province is a very legitimate issue that merits suo motu proceedings by the apex judiciary, he added.

PA opposition leader Khawaja Izharul Hassan of the MQM-P said the ruling PPP should also inform about its performance during the tenure of its previous federal government as regards resolving the river water issue.

Hassan said that merely moving a resolution to condemn IRSA and present federal authorities is not sufficient, as the PPP should also present itself as being accountable on this issue, especially on the party’s achievements during its own government.

He urged the top court to also take notice of the issue of the recent national census in which the population of Karachi has been “counted less than the actual number” as well as of the issue of Article 140 regarding the “local government agencies in the province being denied powers”.

Earlier, speaking on a point of order, Hassan said the Sindh government and the PA opposition should draw up a strategy for protesting against the worsening power crisis in Karachi. He said the federal government should not commit injustice with the city as regards power and gas supplies in view of the hot weather and the upcoming month of Ramazan. Khuhro agreed to the idea of a joint strategy.