ISLAMABAD, Sep 19 (APP): The speakers at the Indus Delta Community Dialogue on Tuesday warned that the Indus River’s per capita water availability decline below 1000 cubic meters was alarming for the country’s future and water security.
The Indus Delta Community Dialogue was held at Sindh University Thatta Campus in partnership with Water Environment Forum Pakistan (WEForum) with a mission to “Save the Indus Delta with UN Support”. It was presided over by Pro-Vice Chancellor Prof. Rafique Memon with former Senator Nisar Memon as chief guest, a news release said.
Welcoming the participants, Prof. Mukhtar Mahar, DG Coastal & Deltaic Studies said, “Today’s objectives are to unite all delta stakeholders to identify issues, challenges and opportunities towards evolving local, provincial, national, regional and global programs under a proposed new United Nations Convention for the Conservation of River Delta (UN-CCRD).”
Dr Engr. Syed Raghib Abbas Shah, former WAPDA chairman and founding senior executive committee member of WEForum shared detailed status of Indus River water in Pakistan with its per capita water availability going dangerously below 1000 cubic meters. Thus, the need to conserve and develop water for drinking, industrial and agricultural use. In addition, “Pakistan must improve its water governance to ensure timely water distribution to all, release needed water flow from upstream to downstream Indus and discharge fresh water to sea for preserving ecology of delta for livelihood of deltaic people.”
Pro Altaf Siyal, dean of Sindh Agriculture University Tandojam explained at length the historic perspective of depleting Indus delta with all scientific studies carried on so far.
He alerted the participants of the climate change phenomenon severely affecting communities with seawater intrusion, shoreline changes and degradation of Indus delta. He called upon all, specially governments, to resolve issues on urgent basis for protecting the delta community facing agricultural and food challenges.
Khuda Bukhsh, Yasmin Shah, Ahmed Khan, Ghulab Shah, and Engr. Obhayo Khushk representing welfare department, fisherfolk, rural support organization, old port of Ketibandar, irrigation and research shared their concerns about Indus and its delta which now pose existentialist threats to people of Sindh specifically Indus deltaic people.
They called upon governments, parliament and experts at responsible positions to intervene “to save the dying delta”.
The Community Expert Mir Mohammad Baloch said, “The government should also invite the community in their planning process for proper resource allocation towards addressing their issues and challenges.”
WEForum chairman Nisar Memon in his ‘Way Forward’ remarks thanked all participants for joining this dialogue and coming forward unitedly to save Indus deltaic life.
He was pleased that individuals as well as institutions like Sindh University Thatta, Sindh Agriculture University Tandojam, Mehran TV and others have partnered with WEForum. “We are glad Yasmin Shah daughter of Fisher Folk leader Mohammed Ali Shah is amongst us and committed to carry on her late father’s mission,” he added.
Memon said that the views expressed today will be part of a report and we shall meet next with Sindh government, federal government as well as with UN. In future deliberations, adding, “we plan to include other three deltaic districts i.e. Sujawal, Badin, Karachi as well as island communities besides all other stakeholders from business, commerce, industry; fishing, horticulture, agriculture, livestock; educational & research institutions; marine, maritime, security institutions; local, regional and global NGOs; youth and women.”
He was of the view that the Indus Water Treaty of 1960 and Water Apportionment Accord of 1992 need to be revisited to include climate change and environmental aspects affecting the Indus, Delta and its community.
“I thank you for your confidence in sharing existentialist threats, proposed solutions and action plans needed at a local, provincial, national, regional and global level to protect deltaic life,” said Nisar Memon and assured, “with the awareness of issues and determination expressed in today’s meeting we shall unitedly move forward to combat the challenges from any further harm to Indus Delta and bring global solutions to deltaic people.”
In conclusion, Nisar Memon said, “This dialogue with the community will help provide solutions and link up our efforts under the upcoming UN Convention for the Conservation of River Deltas planned to be discussed at UN Climate Conference COP28 at UAE at the end of this year.”
In his presidential address, Pro-VC Prof. Rafique Memon shared various programs and projects implemented for the last four years at the campus to strengthen the knowledge of students and researchers for improving the deltaic community life in agriculture, fisheries and livestock.
He expressed his pleasure in further serving the deltaic community by partnering with WEForum and said, “The issues of Indus delta as highlighted by experts and community today shall be documented and shared with government and as indicated by senator Memon taken up globally with UN.”