Large area still inundated in Sindh, SC told
From the Newspaper | Our Staff Reporter October 28, 2011
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court was informed on Thursday that floodwater was still standing on a large area of Sindh because the government had removed only 30 per cent of thousands of unauthorised embankments from the bed of Indus River.
The SC bench had taken up an application of Marvi Memon, a former member of the National Assembly, seeking court’s order to revive the Flood Inquiry Commission to find out how the government had failed to act on its recommendations resulting in recent floods in Sindh. The commission was set up after devastating floods battered the country, particularly Sindh, last year.
Ms Memon, who visited the districts of Badin, Thatta, Mirpurkhas, Sanghar and Tharparkar that have suffered severe damage due to rain this year, said in her application that a heavy rainfall was predicted by the Met Office this year and by the Climate Change Committee of the National Assembly last year of which she was chairperson.
But, she said, the irrigation and drainage systems of Sindh had neither rectified the design fault nor had they been maintained to cater for any amount of rain. Corruption in the department had become the order of the day, she alleged.
An officer of the Sindh irrigation department, Mr Ansari admitted before the court that thousands of unauthorised embankments had been built on the riverbed, especially near Ghotki. He pointed out that according to irrigation laws erecting such encroachments was an offence.
Sindh’s Advocate General Fateh Malik said the provincial government was trying its best to drain out water and solve the problems being faced by people, adding that these efforts sometimes got hampered because of illegal dykes erected by ‘some greedy persons’.
Mr Ansari said there were isolated spots where water was still standing, but almost 60 per cent of the affected land had been cleared and displaced people had started returning to their homes. The rest of the inundated areas would be cleared with the commencement of Rabi season from Nov 15, he added.
The court referred to a letter it had received from one Bashir Malick which alleged that reports submitted by the provincial government were faulty. Mr Malick said there were several ponds built around Taunsa Barrage to mitigate the impact of high floods but they had been encroached upon by local influential political clans like Khosas.
Punjab’s Advocate General Khawaja Haris informed the court that encroachments had been removed from 12 ponds and that action would be taken as recommended by Justice (retd) Mansoor Ali Shah of the Lahore High Court in his report on the Punjab floods.
Balochistan’s advocate general lamented that inefficient management on the part of provincial governments of Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was adversely affecting the water flows in his province, adding that the irrigation department had suffered a loss of over Rs15.6 billion and the Kirthar range had also been affected.
The bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain asked the Sindh government to submit a report, suggesting process for rehabilitation of the drainage system in the province.
Punjab and other provinces will also submit similar reports and the attorney general will inform the court about the pace of compliance after three weeks.
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