It has been recently reported in the press that some unscrupulous landlords of Khairpur district are removing tonnes of earth from the bunds, or protective dykes, of the area to enrich their agricultural lands. Those having lands near bunds are also selling the same to needy landowners at Rs 50 per trolley. This illegal and dirty business is being run on both sides of River Indus from Kashmore to Thatta, in cahoots with the corrupt mafia of Sindh Irrigation Department with impunity. As a result of continuous digging, some of the bunds have totally disappeared at various places, causing serious anxiety to the people of the area. Another menace on the riverbed is action of the influentials of the area taking advantage of the shortage of water flow in the river by annihilating millions of forest trees in a bid to grab the rich alluvial land. The forest cover on or near dykes actually served to protect the erosion of rich soil and was also a defense against inundation. With its removal, the danger of flooding has increased manifolds. These Katcha lands have now been acquired by these devious Zamindars on lease by paying very meager amounts. The removal of soil from the protective bunds and using lands of river permanently for cultivation is not only an ecological disaster but also a danger to the inhabited settlements near river Indus as their inundation is likely whenever the river swells during monsoons. -SYED SHAHNAWAZ SHAH, Toronto, Canada, via e-mail, March 31.