It takes one hour long drive on a road built on a platform – created to remain above the seawater level during the time of high tide – to reach the town of Keti Bunder, an iconic fishing town and the last human settlement along the Indus River in the place of Thatta district.
The past governments had planned several mega projects for this area. Long before the proposed plan for the Gwadar port was designed out, previous Prime Minister Late Benazir Bhutto intended to make Keti Bunder the 3rd port of Sindh province to meet the country’s increasing requirements as well as that of the landlocked regions of Afghanistan and Central Asia.
In the year of 1995, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) government had considered to make a thermal power project in the impoverished town.
The Zardari’s government led by the similar party declared that it would develop the new mega city of Zulfikarabad that will involve this town. Although, no development scheme has been began in the town of Keti Bunder so far.
The households of the area are deprived of power, healthcare, sanitation, and educational services, but the most distressing aspect of the situation is the deficiency of drinking water.
Sticking to their customs and cultural values, the households of Keti Bunder utilized to refrain from selling milk in the past, but the extreme change in conditions has forced them to sell even water now.
Drinking water, which is actually a state responsibility, is an expensive commodity in this fishing hamlet. The closest source to get drinking water is a small canal known as Jhalu Nali situated over 18 kilometers away from the town of Keti Bunder and it is transported to the town utilizing donkey carts, tankers, or other means of transportation.
The tanker owners sell water to shops in the town of Keti Bunder from where people purchase small quantities of the commodity on high costs, with no guarantees on its quality.
Most people rue the fact that they lost the mere source of their livelihood – fishing – because of the decreased water flow in the river and the increasing costs of fuel utilized in boats coupled with the money they spend on water has added much to their miseries.
Keti Bunder was once popular for vast fields of crops such as betel leaf, rice, banana and poultry farming was also a lucrative business, but the people have now run out income generation options because of the reduced water level of the once mighty Indus.
The growing sea intrusion in the section has ruined mangrove forests, while the topographical alterations because of the deficiency of river water have shattered the bio-diversity, resulting in a reduction in livestock.
The prominent breeds of the popular Kharai Camel, buffaloes and the popular red cow are now no more discovered in the town.
Situated in the fan-shaped Indus Delta where the Indus River joins the Arabian Sea, Keti Bunder is a distinctive taluka administration of the Pakistan state, as it has merely 1 union council. The sea intrusion resulting from the absence of water in Kotri Barrage and climate change have compelled the people of the town to move their localities 3 times in the last few decades.
Of the 42 dehs (in the past, there are just fourteen left, with a population of almost 28,000 as each last national census, but the majority of them have now shifted to other parts of Thatta district as well as the city of Karachi.
The 4 key creeks of the Indus River out of 17 are situated in this area involving Kangri (also known as Turchhan Creek), Hajamro, Khoobar and Chhann, where the Indus utilized to run in all its might in the past, but now seawater flows upstream in the creeks.
The tiny fisher folk settlements in these creeks are deprived of basic civic facilities and seawater intrusion has been instantly worsened the living situations.
Thatta is believed to be one of the most backward and poorest districts of Pakistan state and within the place of Thatta, Keti Bunder are the poorest town with no state-run civic services.
There are just certain mud houses in the centre of the area and some wooden shacks are scattered in other places.
The people have constructed embankments around their small settlements to keep away seawater, which mostly inundates their homes.
The Sindh Wildlife Department has announced the wetlands of Keti Bunder as secured game sanctuaries, but no any department has taken any step for resorting out the difficulties of its human settlements.
The area has always sustained out of the concentration of the mainstream media and sufferings of its inhabitants have highly been neglected.
The elderly people of this town informed that if governments keeps neglecting the plights of the people of Keti Bunder, the area will also get disappear such as Lari Bunder and Kharak Bunder – 2 popular towns in the similar area that vanished sue to the water shortage and its people moved to other localities.
The people claimed that the government should release reasonable rate of water in downstream Kotri to overcome the sea intrusion so that the residents in Keti Bunder can survive and also offer basic necessities to the town.