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October 5, 2015

Badin growers get water after 15 years


October 5, 2015

Badin: Growers of Badin are cheering up as water in its Ali Wah Minor’s tail has reached after 15 years following the struggle of water users’ alliance.
Ali Wah, a distributor of Akram Wah, a perennial canal of Kotri Barrage, was drying at thefive kilometer end area for 15 years despite of growers’ agitation. However, with change in struggle pattern for last one and a half year, water is there at the tail irrigating around 3,000 acres of land, which had, otherwise, become barren.
Noor Muhammad Pahnwer, a member of Ali Wah water users alliance formed early last year, told The News at his village Jan Muhammad Pahnwer that along with traditional protests through demonstrations, strikes and sit-ins, they adopted the policy of cooperation. “We invited irrigation officers in seminars and asked their help to cope with the water thieves,” he said. “We conveyed to them that we are not against you (the irrigation officers). We did not come into confrontation with them, as we know matters did not resolve with the confrontation in the past.” He said with adaptation of such an approach, the irrigation department officials cooperated and controlled some illegal hydrants. Thus, water gradually reached at the tail end of Ali Wah.
Ali Wah’s command area is around 28,000 acres, where growers of the last five kilometers remained thirsty while others were drawing more water. People of the area had become depressed with the unavailability of water for the last 15 years and were migrating to other areas after selling or leasing out their land, rich and fertile, in this area.
Water was being discharged through three ways by influential upper riparian growers; redesigning the water courses; drawing through pumping machines and giving illegal cuts to channels and distributaries.
One district level irrigation officer, who was not entitled to talk to the press, said water had reached the last watercourse of Ali Wah after 11 years, where paddy was cultivated

after a long time. Water was made available after cleaning of water courses, de-silting of Ali Wah and taking more than 34 illegal water pumping machines in the government control.
Siddique Pahnwer, head of the growers alliance, said that around 3,000 acres of land was now drawing water from tail of Ali Wah where vegetables were grown in the last couple of months after the availability of water.
Ahmed Mallah, a grower of village Khamiso Mallah, said that with the struggle of the alliance, water had reached at the tail end but injustices of upper riparians still continued. “Water has reached here in the season, where not much water is needed. If they provide water in Rabbi season (cultivation period of wheat) that would be beneficial,” he said. “During the cultivation of paddy, water was not released for a month, so we had to destroy our paddy crop.”
Growers said being a perennial canal, there was no rotation of water at distributaries of Akram Canal, but they were always told of rotations by irrigation officers and they kept waiting for rotations to end but did not get water.
Muhammad Bachal Khokhar, a grower of village Khamiso Khokhar, Union Council Nindo, said they needed water at the time of sowing season, as there was no timetable for cultivation of crops.
Mir Hassan Pahnwer, a grower of Ali Wah Large tail end, said watercourses of Ali Wah were tampered by the upper riparians. There was no water at the five kilometres of tail end for long periods. With unavailability of water there, spending on land was wasted most of the times, he said.
Muhammad Saleh, former chairman Sindh Irrigation and Drainage Authority Farmers Organization Akram Wah, said watercourses of Ali Wah were tampered from head to tail.
The growers at the head discharged more water and did not shut the watercourse after drawing and that water mixed with the saline drain water which was lifted by the growers of tail end from the drains. Saleh said that water at the tail of Ali Wah had reached after a time period of 15 years with the struggle of the alliance.
Fiza Qureshi, National Project Coordinator at Indus Consortium, which is working on water issues in Sindh and Punjab, said that Ali Wah water users’ alliance was formed in April 2014 as there were no functional bodies of the growers. “Farmers organisations had no knowledge of rules and rights,” she said. Tail-enders, mostly small growers were suffering, because of water scarcity, since there was no de-silting of canals either.
Capacity building regarding legal framework and media campaigns had a big role in the success story of the growers. She said they received positive response from the SIDA and Sindh Irrigation Department during meetings and workshops with them. She said the alliance was a successful model, which should be replicated on other canals in Sindh as well as the Punjab.

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