IN order to save Thatta and its adjoining areas from devastations caused by sea intrusion, the provincial government has decided to plant trees on the coastline of the district on a mass scale as reported in the media.
While announcing the plan, the Sindh minister of environment said: ?The number of trees planted under this mega-scheme will be greater than any artificial plantation so far made in the world.? The downstream Kotri Barrage shortage of water in the Indus River has played havoc with the districts of Badin and Thatta where about 250,000 acres have already been devoured by the sea; besides, millions of acres of fertile land have turned saline.
Unimpeded sea intrusion and obliteration of mangrove forests in almost their entirety has exposed these coastline districts to other disasters such as cyclones and tsu namis.
Therefore, the decision about afforestation of the coastline, even though it is belated, is still commendable.
I am sure if the scheme is implemented in letter and in sprit, the damage caused to low-lying areas of the coastal belt will at least be brought to a minimum, even if it is not recouped.
I suggest that mangroves, coconuts and other trees should be planted in these areas as they can survive the damp and salty climate of the ocean.
Moreover, participation of the people of the area is also a sine qua non for the success that can be achieved only by employing locals in the project.
However, in view of the global warming and consequent rise in sea level even large-scale plantation may not be sufficient to stop future sea intrusion.
I would, therefore, suggest that a long-term plan should be envisaged at higher level for constructing dykes on the seashore on the pattern of the Netherlands: a low country having 27 per cent of its area below sea level, with over 60 per cent of the country?s population of 15.8 million people.
They solved the problem of sea invasion permanently, centuries ago, by constructing dykes on the North Sea. ALTAMASH M. KURESHI Daily Dawn Karachi