PAKISTAN: Senior Balochistan officials and environmentalists demand Rs700 billion for the construction of small and medium size of dams to cope with the draught and water crises as water-table is alarmingly dropping down every year in Pakistan’s provice Balochistan.
Briefing a media team at Quetta Rural Support Program (BRSP) office Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Nadir Gul Barech and and Balochistan environment department officials said that beside the other reasons Russian war in Afghanistan and internal instability severely disturbed the Balochistan’s environment. They say in 32 districts of Balochistan they had more than 3200 Karezes(a chain of wells enter connected) but only two of them are functional which are not enough to water crops.
“The years-long Internal instability and influx of thousands of Afghan refugees caused severe damages to the pleasant environment in Balochistan”, says Barech. He adds they recorded only 55 millimeter rain per annum which is not enough to reduce even the years long draught in Balochistan. However, he adds that they are working to harness potentials of the poor living in rural areas to develop their life standard.
He says 50 percent of the total population living under the poverty line in Balochistan. Adds, that on 7.4 percent of total land in Balochistan is cultivated as most of the farmers in the province stopped growing crops due to unavailability of water.
“Since 1991 we are working directly with the communities in Balochistan for their skills development and initiated several small projects. We reached to the conclusion that poverty could be reduced if people in Balochistan get water for cultivation”. “I am sure that if the government not initiate projects for the availability of clean drinking water in the coming ten years people would start migration from Quetta city”, Barech predicts.
Balochistan environment department officials say if they construct at least two small dams in Subokzay and Mirani districts in Qetta could change life of the indigenous people. They say they have 74 percent of poverty which is a dangerous indicator for the government.
“I suggest that in the coming five years province should allocate 1/3 of its total provincial development budgets for the water related issues would help bring up water-table in Balochistan”, an official revealed.
He says they want to establish at least one soil testing laboratory in each districts that would help increase soil productivity in the province. “Balochistan witnessed 34 severe drought cycles in the past 140 years and now passing through the 35th drought cycle’, says DG environment.
Demanding Rs,700 billion, the official says they can overcome from the water crises if they construct 873 small and medium sizes dams in Balochistan in the coming ten years. Adding that if they save 32 to 40 percent of the total rain water and construct check dams could bring water table up in Balochistan.
“Storing rain water and plantation was the ultimate solution that could address the water crises bring back a pleasant environment in the province”, the official said.
“We have 18 Basins with its different natures that could also be used to minimize water crises in the province”, said DG environment. He adds they want to establish automatic weather stations in each district so that they could update all the concern departments with on click.
He says they get 17 to 18 feet snowfall in the past years but in last winter season they recorded few inches snow in Balochistan. He says Ziarat district is famous for fresh fruits especially for apple and pleasant weather where water table went alarmingly 200 feet down in the past two years.
“Draught is getting momentum in most parts of the province while Turbat is recorded the hottest district this year”, says DG.
The official says water table in Noshki, Washok, Awaran,Kharan Panjgor is also noticed going down. He adds that they were planning to bring technological revolution in the traditional farming and fruits plantations so that water could be saved. He says some of the indigenous farmers have already adopted Olive plantation revolution and taking benefits of it in some parts of Balochistan.
“We are optimistic to convert into modern cultivation and plantation to increase pistachio, black amber and grapes productivity in the province”, says DG environment. He claims that Balochistan’s apple is the second sweat and juicy fruit in the continent after Afghanistan that need much water for its better production”, he explains. He says they as test case changed few brick kilns from traditional into zigzag technology and gave positive results.
Deputy Commissioner of district Pishin Major(R) Aurangzeb Badeni says potentials in agriculture and water management sectors of Balochistan are outstanding as compare with rest of the country. He says if they take right measures on the right time can overcome from the water related issues.
“I believe that Barani and Check dams are the ultimate solution to bring up back water table in Balochistan”, says DC Pishin. He adds that recycling of wasted water and plantation could also provide Balochistan a durable water solution.
Local Support Organization (LSO) chairman of district Khushab Agha Muhammad says they are constructing a small Barani dam at Zarghoon village. He says the dame would be completed till the end of this year which would benefit 270 families in Zarghoon village.
“He says with the financial and technical support of BRSP the total cost of the dame is 2.2 million rupees. “When the dam is completed after two months it will not only reduce water crises but it will also increase livelihood in the village”,says Agha. He says as test case they are constructing the small dam that would encourage the government and other departments to make Balochistan green again.
The Zaghoon villagers including Muhammad Mir Agha and Abdullah Akhun say for the first time they see a ray of hope in their village. “We are happy that when the dam is completed would give them drinking and for agriculture use. They say they would also buy some goats and sheeps again they had before but sold out due to unavailability of water and grazing land in their village.