KARACHI, April 2, 2014 (Tehmina Qureshi / UPI Next) — The intrusion of the Arabian Sea into the mouth of the Indus River on Pakistan’s southern coast is eroding land, forcing whole villages to relocate inland, and threatening fishing livelihoods, residents and environmental experts say.
As sea levels rise globally, low-lying coastal areas become vulnerable to the incoming saltwater.
The sea’s intrusion into the once-thriving Indus Delta in the coastal Thatta district occurs mainly because the Indus River does not carry enough water below the Kotri Barrage, a major dam 190 miles north of the coast, to hold back the saltwater from the river and its network of creeks and mudflats. The seawater intrusion turns fields and underground drinking water saline, makes land waterlogged and reduces fish catch.
In the early 20th century, the area was famous for production and export of red rice and fish. For centuries earlier, it was a center of trade and scholarship, partly due to the old port at the seafront town of Keti Bunder. Now the survival of this part of the dying delta region is threatened.