- The reject all dams on the Indus River
- The legislation on Indus Rights Act 2019
- To prevent the intrusion of sea into the lands
Karachi: Indus Right Act 2019 should be legislated in Sindh Assembly to protect the Indus River such demand was made by Fisherfolk organization which held provincial dialogue on “Personhood Rights to Indus River and Delta” in Karachi, capital the province Sindh.
In Pakistan, since the decades three provinces: Sindh, Balochistan, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa firmly opposed Kalabaagh Dam – Sindh that demands the no dams on Indus River.
The ruling party or whosoever in power seen emboldening he idea of building the large dams on the Indus River despite majority has rejected large dams. Civil society activists firmly rejected all dams on Indus River at seminar “Personhood Rights to Indus River and Delta,”
“River is engine, and our statemen think water is engine,” Dr. Hassan Abbas who is chairman at Integrated Water Resources Management, says; “therefore, we have divided our water among communities, and do not think of the Indus River which belongs to all, and has been brutally damaged day by day.”
Dr. Abbas castigated the role of state that was not ready to look into the matter of Indus River that had been ruined instead it had offered you [citizens] Sindh Taas Agreement which was signed by then dictator Ayub Khan because of money. He also questioned the role of companies – the fact is world is dismantling the dams, and in Pakistan, we are lectured about building the dams.
Nasir Ali Panhwar who is Executive Director at Environment and Development explained importance of river – our three major compounds of society: Industry, Agriculture, and domestic work would be badly affected by the shortage of water. Sindh had faced shortage of water, and Indus Delta which was main source of maintaining the environment had been ruined.
“Sindh is asked to give water to the delta from its own share, indeed, delta is national issue which should be solved at national level,” said Panhwar. Moreover, the agreement in 1991 signed in which agreed that water would reach the sea, up to now, Sea had not received water. Therefore, the agreement 1991 should be revisited in order to give the water to the sea.
Grant Wilson, Executive Director, Earth Law Centre who explained the concept of Personhood Rights to Rivers and shared with audience that many countries had been given rights to the rivers through constitution. Wilson joint by Skype. Bangladesh is one of them, has given the rights to all rivers – including, western countries have givens rights to the river and others are working on it.
Wilson emphasized that rivers were near to die, in Pakistan, the movement should be started to protect Indus River. He appreciated the role of Fisherfolk organization that had initiated work for the Indus River. “Indus River has right because it exists,” says Grant Wilson, “The Indus River is not a property, in fact, is a holy river.” “Let them [rivers] flow as they do.”
Khalid Junejo who is nationalist leader, questioned the organization, what kind of rights you wanted from the state. “We are given such kinds of rights that the state abducts our people and then kill them.” “If they kill our Indus River by building dams on it, they will kill our Indus civilization.”
He wondered Punjab had claimed on resources of Sindh and Balochistan when asked Punjab to share its water with Sindh, refuse to do it.
In Pakistan, one force wants to build dams and other force wants to save the Indus River.
Gul Hassan Kalmati who is historian, says that “we reject all dams, including in Sehwan.” Let the Sindhu River flow.” The shortage of water had damaged our civilization. For instance, Malir had been ruined due to no water and was getting salty water.
Karmat Ali who president at PILER said that since the freedom, we had badly treated Indus River. In Pakistan, Hairs [Famers] were not given the right of land, but the lords had been given the lands.
He thanked to the God that Chief Justice Saqib Nisar got retired who was party in building the dams. Junejo asked that how you educated Judges or hoped the justice would be done to your case when Judge turned out to be supporter of dams.
Participants raised concerns over the policies:
Participants joint the seminar from different cities of Sindh. One of Participants whose name was Noor Mohammad Thaheem shared his personal experience of how his village and people being affected by the state’s policies – the land had been submerged into the sea. State wanted to settle refugees and Punjab people in their districts then it would fair demand that our people had been displaced because of their unfair policies, should be settled in Punjab.
Another female participant from Thatta asked that people have been affected by the state. Thus, the case should be filed on the state.
Mohammad Ali Shah who is Executive Director at Fisherfolk organization, asked Sindh government should legislate the act to protect Indus River. He offered his draft-act “Indus River Rights Act, 2019” to Sindh government. He referred the Former President of USA Barack Obama who had protected Salmon fish and dismantled around three dams which did harm the Salmon fish. “In Pakistan, Palla Fish gets disappeared but the state insists on building the dams.” He raised point that only 30/40 percent of dams had provided the water to the land in the world.
“Dams are not part of solution; indeed, they create the major problems.” He hoped that the movement of saving the Indus River should be raised its voice at South Asia level.
He spoke about delta issue, “let me summarize that the river and sea both are connected to each other. If you controlled water by building dams then obviously, other would find its way to meet its beloved.” Therefore, the sea was heading toward the Indus River, the reason: the state had controlled the river.
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