The uncertain fate of Lake Manchar
The “boat people” who live on board precarious vessels on Lake Manchar are discouraged about their future. Water pollution and salinization has almost stopped providing them with fish, forcing them to migrate to the mainland or towards the sea. The Floating Family, finalist in the micro-documentary category at the We Art Water Film Festival 5, recounts the precarious situation of the last fishermen who survive in Pakistan’s largest lake.
The Mohanas have been the first to be affected by the degradation of water. Many boat dwellers have been forced to move to the shoreline. Others, like the protagonists of Sharukh’s short film, are considering going to sea to fish, a fishing mode they are unfamiliar with and which forces them to more hazardous navigation.
Although Pakistan has not conducted a census since 1998, it is estimated that there are between 4,000 and 5,000 people living on the lake, a huge contrast to the 20,000 that lived there in the 1980s. Most of them have migrated to cities, like the neighboring Karachi. Slums like Orangi Town, one of the largest in the world, are steadily growing with those displaced by environmental degradation.
The future of Lake Manchar is uncertain. Government plans are based on the construction of a new channel to regularize effluents into the sea. However, the project, known as RBOD-II, has had long delays and significant cost overruns. Meanwhile, Lake Manchar residents are hoping for a repeat of last year’s floods which, at the height of the pandemic, were disastrous for Pakistan, but paradoxically caused a reduction in pollution and salinity. But the reality is that rainfall will decrease and flows will be reduced, so it is necessary to urgently invest in measures that will not solve what is already irreversible, but will alleviate the damage caused to the water.
There are many lakes in danger: , , , , … They all have and unique ecosystems that are vital for the attainment of the SDGs. They are part of the freshwater reserves of a planet that needs them all and cannot afford to lose them.