DESTRUCTION OF FERTILE LAND

Syed Aqeel Hussain

Mr. Ban Ki Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations Organizations, has very rightly said: Quote: “Climate change does not respect border; it does not respect who you are – rich and poor, small and big. Therefore, this is what we call ‘global challenges,’ which require global solidarity.”

Pakistan has been facing since so many years major climate change effects like other countries, such as heavy floods, continuous droughts, rising temperatures and melting of glaciers. Melting of glaciers and rising temperatures are particularly major issues in this country, causing heavy floods since years.

On the utmost important occasion of the International Conference on Climate Change, I would like to bring an important point into the kind notice of the Government of Pakistan and the International Organizations that so many villages situated at the bank of River Indus have lost their identity forever and are in the process of complete devastation. Hundreds of thousands hectares of fertile agriculture land has been completely devastated by the continuous erosion of River Indus and that is an ongoing process.

One recent example is of the hundred percent devastation of Village Nauranga in 2012/2013 soon after the heavy floods of 2010. This village was situated at the bank of River Indus in-between Jinnah Barrage and Chashma Barrage, Tehsil and District Mianwali (about 7 kilometers towards west from Tari Khel, a famous town situated on the western side of Kalabagh Road).

 

Flood in Nauranga

Once upon a time this village has been very famous throughout Mianwali District and Sargodha Division for the promotion of revolutionary education. Thousands of students, who got their basic education with distinction until middle level (8th Grade) from this village, have excelled everywhere and they are very successfully working in various government departments, semi-government institutions, banks, armed forces and foreign missions. The whole record is available with the District Administration of Mianwali. The credit for the promotion of education goes to the late Headmaster Syed Atta Muhammad Shah and to his whole team who devoted their lives to educate the poor masses of the area without any greed and without distinction. Nauranga does not exist anymore but its name will remain alive due to revolutionary education. It will always be remembered as a symbol of quality education. Some of the teachers are no more alive; but they are always remembered by the people of the area, they live in their hearts. Every passerby salutes their tombs and pays homage to them for their remarkable greedless noble service rendered to the humanity.

Nauranga has lost its complete physical identity since 2012/2013 due to continuous heavy erosion of the River Indus. Its existence remained at stake for several years and now this village does not exist anymore. Thousands of hectares of fertile agricultural land is under River now. That’s what the experts say that “Climate Change” does not occur in days, weeks or months. This village and many other adjacent villages have been facing heavy floods for years and years with visible increase every year. The floods of 1976, 1988 and 2010 have proved to be the worst ones. The people have been continuously suffering from heavy losses of property, crops, cattle etc… and also from causalities occurring from drowning, post-flood diseases, snake-biting etc…

In fact, the construction of an embankment was the only way to save its identity and agricultural land. On behalf of the entire residents of Village Nauranga, Syed Aqeel Hussain (working in a foreign mission in Islamabad) took initiative to approach the Honorable Chief Minister Punjab, Mr. Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif in 2008 and 2010, through his two Ambassadors, requesting the construction of an embankment at the banks of River Indus to save the village and precious agricultural land. The Chief Minister took an action very soon; a feasibility report, prepared by the Irrigation department District Mianwali (still available with this department), was sent to the Government of Punjab for release of necessary funds, but no action was taken due to lack of political backing. Perhaps the village did not belong to any VIP or big landlords. The elected representatives of the area are least interested in this subject.

Unfortunately no proper action was taken in time by the District administration of Mianwali and the Government of Punjab to save this village and fertile agricultural land from complete destruction. The District authorities and the provincial Government did nothing to save the material of its only two official buildings of Government Girls Primary School and Government Boys Elementary School Nauranga. The whole material went into the River due to erosion. The Name of Nauranga was initially indicated on the Web site of the Government of Punjab as a “Model Village” to be constructed, but later it disappeared due to unknown reasons.

After the complete devastation of Nauranga the people of the area have shifted (empty-handed without shelters, property, crops, cattle, money etc…) to various places and they are living in a very miserable condition. They have been waiting long time for an “angel” to come as a real “saviour”, but in vain. Only those can understand their miseries, who have faced themselves such difficulties. After the heavy floods of 2010, some people received financial assistance from the Government of Punjab amounting from 20,000 to 40,000 rupees, seeds and fertilizer but that amount is nothing as compared to their losses. The people, who used to provide wheat and various other crops to the area, are now struggling for their own bread and butter.

Aqeel Hussain, representing the voiceless people of his area, once again sent a written letter to the District Coordination Officer (DCO) Mianwali on 10 December 2013 requesting him to forward his request to the Chief Minister Punjab for allocation of necessary funds to compensate the poor people of Nauranga, but the DCO did not even acknowledge receipt of his letter.

France will host in December 2015 the 21st United Nations Climate Conference (COP21). It will be a good occasion for all countries to reach a new international agreement to limit the rise in temperatures. The participating countries should try their best to preserve this world in order to make it a liveable place.