INDUS DELTA HAS SHRUNK BY 92% SINCE 1833

INDUS DELTA HAS SHRUNK BY 92% SINCE 1833

SAM Staff,
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In 1833, the delta of the Indus River was estimated to be stretching out over an area of around 12,900 square kilometres (sq km). However, the human impact on the environment and natural flow of the river has evidently resulted in the contraction of the delta by as much as 92% in the past 200 years.

This was established in the results of a 15-month study conducted by a team of five academics of the United States-Pakistan Centre for Advanced Studies in Water (USPCASW) at Mehran University of Engineering and Technology (MUET), Jamshoro.

For decades, affected communities, environmental activists and academics have been highlighting the issue of sea intrusion and its consequences for the coast, delta and locals. However, the need for an authentic estimation of the sea intrusion was being felt by researchers. The USPCASW team’s study was an attempt to fulfil that need with the help of satellite imagery and other research tools.

The research findings, which also included the coastal communities’ perception about the sea intrusion’s impact as well as recommendations to address the problem, were shared at a seminar at USPCASW on March 2.

“The delta has shrunk by 92% [from 12,900 sq km]. It currently stretches over a meagre 1,000 sq km,” lead researcher Prof Dr Altaf Ali Siyal said. There are only two active creeks, Khobar and Khar creeks, in the delta which once had as many as 17 active creeks, he added.

The Indus delta is the fifth largest in the world, besides being a designated wetland according to the Ramsar Convention, the international treaty which provides the framework for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. The delta supports the seventh biggest mangrove forest and is the largest arid zone mangrove forest. Currently, it is being threatened by erosion, sea intrusion, soil salinity, declining river flow, shrinking active delta and climate change.

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