SIALKOT -  The bed of River Chenab at Head Marala near Sialkot is wearing a dried-up look due to the stoppage of water by India in the river towards Pakistan. The farmers living along the river have expressed grave concern over the miserable situation.

The Indian government had blocked the River Chenab water about nine years ago for catering its domestic needs.

The perturbed farmers have feared that if the situation persists, the  fertile agriculture land along the River Chenab would become barren which would be a serious setback  to the economy. Under the prevailing situation, it would be too difficult to achieve seasonal crops’ cultivation target fixed by the provincial government.

According to the local officials of the irrigation and agriculture departments , the seasonal crops including wheat and paddy on more than 2.5 million acres across Punjab were badly affected due to shortage of canal water after water was stopped by India in River Chenab towards Pakistan.

The situation has put the growers into severe financial crisis which is aggregating day by day. The growers have become much perturbed due to the critical situation.

The growers including Allah Rakha, Sarfraz Ahmed Ghuman, Muhammad Shafi, Sufi Ahmed, Ch. Ghulam Hussain, Muhammad Sadique, Muhammad Iqbal, Muhammad Ishaq , Nasir Mehmood, Muhammad Saleem, Ghulam Rasul, Qasim Ali, Luqman, Abdul Rehman and Bashir Hussain said that the nasty situation has caused a great financial loss to Pakistan government. 

They said that the early release of water in River Chenab would be helpful in halting the critical situation.

The Agriculture Department officials revealed that over 10 million acres of agricultral lands have been affected the most noticeably in the areas of Sialkot, Gujranwala, Sheikhupura, Jhang, Faisalabad comprising food basket of Punjab.

The shortage of water was caused when India started filling the reservoir of Baglihar Dam for Hydropower Project and irrigation purpose in 2008. The agriculture experts are of the view that the blockage of Chenab water would cause another big financial loss to the national economy.

The irrigation department officials said that Chenab River constitutes the lifeline for agriculture downstream of Marala Head Works near Sialkot and its flow reducing to a trickle in these months , stretching ominous shadows of severe water scarcity for sowing of the seasonal crops like wheat and paddy.

Moreover, the dozens of the fish farms established along the banks of River Chenab had already been dried up due to shortage of water.

The affected fish farmers said that the due to the critical situation, the fish farmers were suffering great financial loss. They also urged the government to take serious note and announce some incentives for their financial compensation.

Head Marala is also a picnic spot where a large number of people reach to rejoice the joy of natural landscape and beauty. While commenting on the situation some visitors strongly condemned the water aggression of India. Some female visitors were of the view that it was a planned conspiracy against Pakistan aiming at converting it into a barren land. Sialkot district is in northeast of Punjab and situated in the feet of the snow-covered Alps of neighbouring Occupied Jammu & Kashmir near River Chenab, which after cutting across the Kaliyaal-Pir Panjal enters Sialkot. It is globally known for its unique export culture, quality products, quality rice, wheat and vegetables thus agriculture remains the most important sector of economy.

Indian actions of denying Pakistan  the waters of River Chenab are display of uncivilized thoughtlessness whereas a frame of work exists in Indus Water Treaty 1960  for resolving  disputes pertaining  to sharing of rivers flowing in the Indus Basin. Meanwhile, there is a permanent Indus Water Commission to resolve differences between these nuclear neighbours.

 

OUR STAFF REPORTER