Rahim Yar Khan [Pakistan], June 3 (ANI): Pakistan's Cholistan region (desert) on Tuesday protested for release of water in canals as they had been facing an acute water shortage for the last two months and were forced to drink brackish subsoil water.
The Cholistanis protested against unavailability of irrigation water for their personal and agricultural needs at Qasimwala headworks (Abbasia Link canal), some 80 km from Rahim Yar Khan, reported Dawn.
They said four canals -- 1-l, 6-R, 7-R and 8-R a with capacity of 60 to 117 cusecs - catering to the needs of more than 300 Chaks and localities of Cholistan had been closed for the last two months.
They said the total capacity of Abbasia Link canal was 6,000 cusecs which passed through Liaqatpur tehsil, Khanpur and irrigated areas of Sadiqabad tehsil but there was no share for Cholistanis from it, reported Dawn.
One of the protestors alleged that when some influential farmers 'greased the palms' of irrigation staff, the water started flowing immediately even at night into these canals.
He said owing to drinking subsoil brackish water more than 70 per cent of population of the area suffered from hepatitis. He said cattle of the residents were dying from thirst, reported Dawn.
The protesters warned that if they were not provided with water, they would close main roads of the district and later march on Lahore to protest outside the chief minister's office.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President and Opposition Leader in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif expressed concern over differences over water distribution among the provinces, reported Dawn.
In a statement on Tuesday, Shehbaz said the confrontation between Sindh and Punjab over water was regrettable. "Water distribution is a sensitive issue, and irresponsibility in this regard can be dangerous," he said.
He said the federal government and Indus River System Authority (IRSA) seemed to be failing in their duties.
He noted that demonstrations over water scarcity in Sindh were not a good omen. "Imran Khan Niazi should not jeopardise the unity and integration of federating units and national security," he said. (ANI)