KARACHI: The Sindh and federal governments have agreed to construct a Barrage on River Indus at 45 kilometers upstream Arabian Sea in the south of Thatta and in the East of Karachi to address environmental issues of sea intrusion and land degaradtion.
This decision was taken in a high-power meeting held under the chairmanship of Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah at CM House. The federal government delegation, led by Federal Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda comprised Wapda Chairman Lt Gen (r) Mohammad Hussain, Mohammad Amin GH (Hydro) Planning, Abid Shaikh Chief Engineer-I (Hydro) Planning, Naeem Arif GM (Projects) South, Col (r) Nasir Ali Khan Director Vigilance. The Sindh government experts team comprised Irrigation Minister Sohail Anwar Siyal, Adviser to CM Murtaza Wahab, PSCM Sajid Jamal Abro, Special Assistant to CM Ashfaq Memon, former senator Dr Karim Khawaja, Special Secretary Irrigation Aslam Ansari, water expert Idress Rajput, Chief Engineer Kotri Karim Wadoo, SIDA MD Wali Mohammad Naich and others.
The Sindh chief minister said that due to non-availabity of water downstream Kotri, sea intrusion had destroyed hundreds of villages in Thatta and Sujawal districts and also badly affected the delta. He added that hundreds of families have migrated from the areas in search of livelihood somewhere else.
Federal Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda and WAPDA Chairman Lt Gen (r) Mohammad Hussain, while giving a briefing to the chief minister, said that Indus River is the largest River and is the lifeline of Pakistan.
Downstream Kotri annual flows have been recorded at 27.9 MAF to sea. Flood protection bunds exist on either bank of Indus River stretch and the flood plain is eight to 12km.
The WAPDA chairman said that there was a plan to construct 12 meters high Sindh Barrage on the River Indus at a distance of 45 km from sea. He added that dykes on either banks in flood plain would be four to nine meters high. The reservoir in flood plain from the barrage would be 160km upstream and would be two canals on each side for irrigation and drinking water in the coastal area, he further said.
He said that right bank canal would be constructed from Ghorabari to Gharo and left bank canal from Sujawal to Golarchi. At this, the chief minister said that right bank canal should be constructed up to Dhabejo so that it could provide water for Karachi and the left bank canal may be taken up to from Golarchi to Thar to provide drinking water to the people Thar.
The WAPDA chief told the meeting that around 56,500 acres land would be acquired which includes 55,000 acres for flood plain, 700 acres for right bank canal and 800 acres for left bank canal. The chief minister said that since both canals, right and left, would be taken up to Dhabeji and Thar, the land acquisition would be more than 80,000 acres.
The meeting was told that conceptual study by WAPDA would be completed by August 2019, feasibility study would be done by September 2020, vetting for international consultants by December 2020 and detailed engineering design to be carried out by 2021 and project implementation would start in January 2022 and to be completed by December 2024.
The chief minister said that there would be a displacement of various villages, therefore, a plan for their rehabilitation or resettlement may also be included in the project. Dr Karim Khwaja suggested that the people who have already lost their lands in sea intrusion should be compensated through the barrage project and the land to be reclaimed from the sea after construction of the barrage must be given lands.
Water expert Idrees Rajput said that there was proposal for construction of a Delta Channel at Buharo to dispose sea water Buharo Channel in 1970 but it could not be implemented. He suggested to WAPDA to construct Delta channel along with the project.