Low water levels: Riverine life comes under threat -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Low water levels: Riverine life comes under threat

Pakistan Press Foundation

SUKKUR: The riverine life of River Indus has been threatened by the alarming decrease in the water level.

The water was released into the downstream due to the annual closure of the Sukkur Barrage and its seven off taking canals and thus the riverine life including fish and turtles have become vulnerable. However, ample water has been left in the left bank of the Indus river, which populated by a large number of blind Indus dolphins.

Every year, water supply to seven off-taking canals of Sukkur Barrage remains closed for 15 days for annual repair and maintenance. All the gates of Sukkur Barrage are raised in first week of January to allow water flow in the downstream. Besides the oiling and greasing of the gates, flooring and filter blocks of the barrage and canals are examined thoroughly and repaired, if needed.

However, people living near the barrage start fishing in the shallow water in an attempt to make money.

A visit to the Sukkur Barrage and its off taking canals revealed a large number of people fishing in different canals using fishing nets. As a result, many turtles were also caught in the fishing nets, which were later released by the people.

According to the fishermen, the big fish swim in the deep water while the small fish are found near the embankment and are caught easily.

At Sukkur bypass, a large number of people including children were seen chasing turtles, which had come out of the shallow water in search of food.

Besides, others were seen fishing using small fishnets. However, they said that these fish are too small to be sold in the market so they are using them for personal consumption.

Upon contact, Sukkur wildlife department deputy conservator Taj Mohammad Shaikh said, “Our teams are closely watching the river and all the canals to make sure that people don’t harm the turtles or the rare blind dolphins”.

There is ample water in the left bank of the river for the dolphins, he said, adding that the turtles are found across the river. Due to low water level in the right bank canals, the turtles come out in search of food and then go back, he explained.

On Friday, a dolphin was spotted in the Rohri canal, which is situated in the left pocket of Sukkur Barrage, he said.

A team of wildlife department tried to rescue it but failed as the water level in the canal is quiet high. “We avoid chasing the mammal constantly because it becomes afraid and suffers a heart attack,” he claimed. The team will again go to rescue the dolphin today (Sunday).

He also appealed to the people to take care of the wildlife. Once the Sukkur Barrage is opened, the situation will return to normal, he added.

The Express Tribune