People from different flood zones in Southern Punjab protested against the delays in the construction and repair of dykes in several districts on Saturday afternoon.
“We have already lost everything and if the government doesn’t work diligently on these repairs we will face the same problems in coming floods for years,” said flood victim from Rajanpur Shah Kareemullah.
The protesters gathered in Abadpur on Saturday morning and protested against the inordinate delays in the construction and repairs of dykes, as well as encroachments on waterways. “Many landlords are redirecting water to their fields regardless of how it will affect us,” said Shakri resident Arshad.
Traffic on the main roads and on Dalas Bridge remained blocked due to the protests that lasted for several hours. The flood victims said that a series of sugar farms had been constructed on thousands of acres of land near the riverbeds without any authorization. “These are encroachments but no one is doing anything about it. The plantations are disrupting the steady flow of water,” Arshad added.
Locals said that in spite of chief minister Shahbaz Sharif’s orders the district government was not taking action against sugar mills owners and landlords who had cultivated sugarcane for the September cultivation drive. “There are no encroachments. We purchased the land cheap. It was devalued and it is the best land for sugar plantations,” said Chaudhary Ameer Zaildar.