Scores of farmers, laborers and locals on Thursday staged a massive sit-in on National Highway against persistent shortage of water in the area.
The protesters, including members of different nationalist parties and groups, blocked Thatta-Hyderabad Highway near the Chatto Chand town of the district and raised slogans against the quarters concerned for not taking the issue seriously.
The protesters held the irrigation department and misguided distribution of water responsible for the situation. The hours-long protest led to the suspension of vehicular traffic on both sides of the highway, besides causing inconvenience to picnickers on the third day of Eid.
Led by leaders of the growers associations, the protesters also criticized the provincial government for its alleged failure in resolving the years-old issue of water scarcity.
Addressing the sit-in, a leader of the growers association, Amanullah Brohi, said that a huge population of Thatta had been braving an acute shortage of water for the past two months, but neither the government officials nor the elected representatives were ready to pay any heed to it.
Sharif Jakhro, an activist of a nationalist party, said that main water reservoirs, including Simkin, Halat, Jam Wah, Thatta water channel, Gharo Massan water channel, Bayo Purandas channel and Jam Branch, were running dry owing to alleged negligence of irrigation officials.
He added that the agriculture sector, livestock sector, fishing, and aquatic creature were bearing the brunt of the shortage of water. “This is just because of an injudicious supply of water in the district by the officials of the agriculture department and their high-ups,” said Hanif Sommro. He added that the situation had turned alarming and the district was heading towards a drought. Sensing the gravity of the situation, Special Assistant to the Sindh Chief Minister and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Member of Provincial Assembly Syed Riaz Hussain Shah reached the protest site and held talks with the demonstrators after which they ended their sit-in.
“I’m fully aware of the situation and would take up the issue with the chief minister to form a concrete strategy to rid the people of Thatta of the years-long quandary,” he told the protesters.
On the other hand, a 15-member committee was formed to hold a meeting with the Thatta district commissioner over the injudicious supply of water.
Soon after the sit-in ended, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah directed the Hyderabad commissioner to submit a detailed report on the water shortage in the district and its adjoining areas.