Apropos a report in a national daily, the Chief Minister Sindh suspended the Chief Engineer of Sukkur Barrage, his Superintendent Engineer, Executive Engineer, SDOs (Sub-Divisional Officers) and other field staff because of a breach in Mirwah Canal on Friday July 10. The breach was closed the next evening (July 11). None of the engineers involved is known to me personally but as a former senior engineer of the Punjab Irrigation Department, I found it hard to believe the report. It seems the worthy Chief Minister may not be aware that breaches in distributary canals, particularly in summer, are not an unknown phenomenon. Moreover, a Chief Engineer or a Superintending Engineer is not directly involved in closure of a canal breach. It is responsibility of the field staff, usually an overseer under supervision of the SDO does it. Suspension of the entire operating staff from the Chief Engineer down to field overseer is not only unprecedented but could be fraught with serious consequences as well. Operation and care of barrages, particularly in flood season, is extremely important. What to speak of suspending Chief Engineer Sukkur Barrage and his entire staff, the transfer of even an overseer at the head works is unthinkable for the consequences it might entail. And July is the peak month of floods in the Indus River. The experienced hands with knowledge of the barrage complex and floods are simply indispensable. They are a required must to handle any serious damage to barrage due to river action. That would not be possible now with the Chief Engineer and his staff under suspension. In this situation, should any interruption in water supply to seven canals of Sukkur Barrage were to occur, it could harm crops on millions of acres in central region of the Sindh interior. The CM has taken all this risk just to punish a breach in a relatively minor canal. Will it not be an unpardonable folly on the part of his government if the unforeseen is seen happening now? With due respect to Chief Minister Sindh, perhaps he is not quite aware of the real importance and significance of Sukkur Barrage. I love this marvel of engineering which, in my forthcoming book, has been ranked as 'jewel of Pakistan Irrigation System. Not only is it the greatest barrage we have but is special for its mechanism for feeding as many as seven large canals that draw up to 48 000 cusecs (cubic feet per second) of discharge and irrigate 7.5 million acres of land. -BASHIR A. MALIK, Lahore, July 14.