Hyderabad (Pakistan): Scores of farmers block Hyderabad railway track near Latifabad on Saturday evening to record their protest against non-availability of irrigation water for their farmlands resulting to up and down country railway traffic remained suspended.
The farmers staged a sit-in on Hyderabad railway track in Latifabad, demanding removal of direct outlets (a water connection that is provided by irrigation department to particular farmer’s farmland who is usually influential one for irrigation of his agriculture lands) from the irrigation canals. They said that these direct outlets are depriving tail end farmers of their share of irrigation water in the lands.
Farmers’ leaders Fayyaz Shah Rashdi, Attaullah Shah and Tariq Arain led the protesters’ long march. The farmers had started long march from Badin on April 22 under aegis of Sindh Abadgar Tanzeem. They mostly own lands in Khair Gamboh irrigation sub-division of Sukkur barrage. President Sindh Abadgar Board (SAB) Abdul Majeed Nizamani, Sindh Democratic Forum’s Zulfikar Halepoto joined the protest on railway track.
SAB president Majeed Nizamani while speaking to protesting farmers said that there is no provision in Irrigation Act for direct outlet (DOs) and culture of these DOs was introduced in PPP regime back in 70s. Countless DOs are issued to influential people at the cost of poor and tail end farmers.
He said that tail gauges at the canals had been dismantled in Sindh. Besides DOs, he said that even irrigation water is being given from one canal system to other one which is clearly illegal and added that supporting channels are being designed also. He claimed that water of commanded area is being transferred to non-commanded area which is absolutely illegal.
Leaders of farmers pointed out that they are not getting water for last seven to eight months in their area with the result that water distributaries including Jarkas, Khoski, Sanghi Pharu, Aliabad and others are lying dry. According to them, the Khairpur Gamboh irrigation sub division is located in Naseer division of Rohri circle in Sukkur barrage’s command area. The farmers are unable to irrigate their lands and cultivate crops adding that growers are even migrating from the area.
They claimed that around 250,000 acres of area is being destroyed due to non availability of water. They said that DOs are primary cause of water shortage in the area and people are part of government that had been given DOs. They said that tail-end areas don’t get water but irrigation authorities remained least concerned about it.
The march started from Malkani Sharif Badin and their protest continued on Railway track till filing of this report at 7pm. The farmers including older ones had reached here in the evening.
RAILWAY TRAFFIC SUSPENDED
The protest by farmers led to suspension of up and down country railway traffic. According to official railway sources, seven trains bound for up and down country had to be stopped at railway stations of Hyderabad, Kotri, Bholari and Jung Shahi. It caused a host of difficulties and inconvenience to passengers who are waiting at railway stations.
“Railway traffic was suspended following the blockade of railway track in Latifabad railway crossing at 4.45pm,” said an official of railway from Karachi over phone. According to him, four trains have to reach Karachi railway and three would leave for destinations like Peshawar, Lahore and Faisalabad.
“We started our long march five days back,” said Fayyaz Rashdi, president of the Sindh Abadgar Tanzeem. He said that he realises that farmers’ protest is causing inconvenience to train passengers.
“Does any minister or government functionary have time to hear our complaint. We are not demanding anything wrong,” he said and added that they are continuing their protest.