SADIQABAD-People of Rahim Yar Khan district are deliberately being deprived of canal water. Water shortage owing to huge canal water theft has turned fertile lands of the district into barren.

These views were expressed by Anjuman-e-Kashtkaran Punjab president Ch Yaseen and local councillors including Ch Tahir Zia and Asad Riaz Cheema during a media talk here the other day.

They alleged that Irrigation Department high-ups including secretary irrigation and RY Khan Xen were involved in canal water theft with the connivance of local influential landlords. "The practice has deprived small farmers of canal water. It has also caused a huge shortage of canal water in the district," they added. They said that water in local canals had been blocked four months ago which had destroyed their standing crops. They also blamed the irrigation officials for diverting canal water of their share to other cities which, they said, was unfair. They flayed the local lawmakers for not raising the issue in assemblies. "The lawmakers, officials, and landlords are involved in exploitation of the small farmer," they lamented, urging the government to take notice of the grave situation or they would be forced to stage massive protests otherwise.