Dams and its impacts on ecology
This story focuses on the movement for restoration of rivers, launched by Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF), which presently possess the secretariat of the World Forum of Fisher People (WFFP). Under its keep rivers free movement, PFF initiated 14-Day Caravan from Jamshoro bridge, Hyderabad on March 1, 2013, which culminated in Islamabad on 14th, where a large number of participants, hailing from different fresh water bodies of Punjab and Khyber Pukhtoon Khuwa provinces gathered to celebrate the International Day of Action for Rivers and against dams.
The objectives of caravan include to motivate the people of other provinces, who are affected by dams and have seen ecology loss around them.
The story comprises observations and difference within the ruling elites and common people. It was observed that educated people from Punjab province support dams, believing it will benefit for generating cheap energy, while the people of tail end areas of Sindh plead the dams have destroyed the ecology and grabbed at least three million acres of land in Indus Delta and caused widely displacement of the locals.
I was with the caravan in Lahore and then in Islamabad where intellectuals and political activists had justification, ignoring the biodiversity, destruction of forests and wanting to see cheap energy through dams. This was the first time the people of Sindh changed their perception about majority of journalists, political activists and even environmental writers and civil society, who stayed aloof while the 14-day caravan was crossing the towns and cities to express what they want.
Some of the development sector and political activists came to express solidarity with the caravan participants and those opposing dams. But none of them dared to deliver speech. All the rivers, except River Indus in Punjab have almost dried and it is the question for the people of Punjab to ask their rulers or at least support the anti-dam movements. Because there is no news about the communities depending on these water resources (rivers) for their livelihood.