KARACHI - The nationalist leaders, environmentalists and fishermen of Sindh on Thursday censured the statement of Federal Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Asif who said the water streaming to Kotri downstream in the River Indus is waste.

Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum chairperson Ali Shah, Qaumi Awami Tehreek leader Noor Ahmed Katiar, Sindh Tarqi Passand Party’s Nandlal Malhi, Sindh United Party leader Ghulam Shah and others said the water streaming below Kotri Barrage in Indus River was dire need of maintaining river ecology, forests and tail-end people, living in Indus Delta.

“It is not only agriculture and power sectors to think over it and initiating mega projects. River ecology, ensuring its natural flow and taking care of hundreds of wildlife and water species, which also depend on the river,” they argued.

Meanwhile, PFF chairperson Ali Shah in his statement said more than one million people associated with agriculture, livestock and fishing depend on the river water specially those living in the Indus Delta. Restoration of environmental flow of the River Indus should be given proper consideration before designing such mega water projects on the river. In case of implementing the controversial project of Kalabagh Dam by the present government, it may cause uncertainty among the people of Sindh who are opposing the project.

Khawaja Asif, speaking in the parliament session said water streaming to downstream Kotri was wastage. He reiterated the stance that building the Kalabagh Dam and Akhori Dam is must to store water for generating electricity.

The minister further told the parliament that the technical design of Dasu Hydropower Project is about to complete and the World Bank has approved funding for the mega scheme starting in 2014.

However, the PFF leadership has rejected the government’s justification and asked the environmentalists, experts of Sindh and other provinces to see the government’s agenda and design the comprehensive list of arguments in the interests of the people living at the tail-end, whose rights are being denied by certain engineers and successive government ministers for long.

Shah said the government should take the environmentalists and ecologists into confidence as hundreds of wildlife and water species depend on the river. Apart from this, forests depletion is another problem because of such mega projects developed earlier which have affected the natural flow of the river.

“Hundreds of people of Sindh will not allow the government to destroy the natural flow of the river further by controlling the stream under such projects,” he added.

Shah also appealed to environmentalists at national and international level to oppose the WB-funded project to save the river economy and ecology which has already been at the verge of collapse due to mega water projects.