Kharif sowing hit by water
Mohammad Hussain Khan
06, 2011: KHARIF crops sowing in lower Sindh region, mainly
fed by Nara canal system, may be hit by water shortage,
while growers’ complaints also abound in different areas of
Sukkur barrage. The shortage has forced growers to come out
The farmers are not ready to believe officials that the
so-called irrigation rotational programme will work. The
Nara canal feeds Mirpurkhas and Umerkot districts and
partially Tharparkar and Sanghar districts besides Khairpur
in upper Sindh.
Against 18,000 cusecs of water in previous years, the
discharge has come down to 12,800 cusecs. The Nara canal’s
carrying capacity has been increased by raising and
strengthening its embankments over the years. However, the
minors and branches linked to it do not have the strength to
bear the pressure of water if it is run with full supply.
According to SIDA managing director Mohammad Ehsan Leghari,
a rotation programme is therefore necessary.
The water shortage is attributed to mismanagement in
distribution system also with reference to direct outlets
(DOs). The DOs are given to influential people by the
competent authority. Officials say that a DO is to be
allowed only rarely and under extremely difficult
conditions. Those having DOs always go for 100 per cent
cultivation while those at the tail-end are left high and
dry. The DOs block flow of water downstream.
“Of the total water availability in the system, 25 per cent
is diverted through DOs leaving the officials to handle
entire system with only 75 per cent of available water. Then
there is system deficiencies and losses which reduce the
quantum of available water to a great extent,” claims a
sitting official while describing DOs a cancer for
A grower of Matiari Ghulam Rasool Memon complains he is
unable to get water for Kharif while sowing is at its peak
in his area. He has sown cotton on around 20-50 acres for
which water is not available from Matiari minor of Rohri, an
off-take canal of Sukkur barrage. The minor feeds tail-end
parts of Rohri canal system. Due to rotation programme,
water is being supplied alternatively. Those who have not
sown cotton are waiting for water to grow vegetable.
Mir Zafarullah Talpur from Mirpurkhas points out that areas
in Khairpur Gamboh of Naseer division of Nara canal system
and Khatiyan minor of Jamrao canal are badly hit by water
shortage. “While water shortage always creates problem, the
lands from command area of Jamrao canal is being shifted to
Naseer canal’s command which is unlawful,” he alleges.
The persistent water shortage is bound to affect cotton,
chilly and sugarcane, sown in October during Rabi season.
The areas hit by water shortage are located in Naukot,
Umerkot Mirpurkhas and Kunri.
The May 15 breach in Jamrao canal near Khadro town made
matters worse for growers of Nara canal system who were
going for early Kharif. Once there is a breach, the system
takes around two to three weeks to get normalised. The water
shortage compelled growers to take to streets.
Protesting growers even resorted to forcible opening of
minors and tributaries and authorities had to seek Ranger’s
assistance. According to director Nara canal area water
board Ghulam Mustafa Ujjan, the deployment of Rangers was
sought for safety of system. “They are now fully deployed in
Mithrao canal’s command area. Partial deployment is done in
Jamrao canal area,” he remarks. He says that system is
normal in Mithrao canal’s command while problems are
occurring in Jamrao canal’s Kot Ghulam Mohammad and Digri
Aslam Baloch, a paddy grower, thinks that water supply to
areas of Badin, Thatta and Tando Mohammad Khan should have
been made for paddy sowing in view of early Kharif in lower
Sindh. These areas are fed by Phulelli canal that takes off
from Kotri barrage. “I have to cultivate 400 acres for paddy
but I am waiting for water supply. Nurseries of paddy are to
be readied for transplantation,” he says. He fears low per
acre paddy yield if water is not ensured.
Water shortage has hit chilli crop as well. The crop sowing
took place around two months back and crop needed one rain
that would prove beneficial.