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Delayed Gomal Zam dam

August 08, 2013

LOCATED in the South Waziristan area of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the multi-purpose Gomal Zam Dam is Pakistan’s first roller compact concrete (RCC) dam. It will not only irrigate 191,000 acres barren land of Tank district and Kulachi tehsil of D.I.Khan, but will also generate 17.5 MW of low-cost hydel power.

According to a report by the Planning Commission, D.I. Khan and Tank are among the 25 poorest districts of the country. The agricultural land either remains ‘barani’ (rain-fed) or the farmers are dependent on indigenous irrigation system known as ‘rod kohi’ (hill torrent).

But the commencement of the project will help store the water for irrigation, mitigate floods, and provide the employment opportunities for youth and also bolster the income of poor segments of society.

One integral part of the project plan, when it was first conceived in 1880, is the construction of 164km-long Waran Canal system. Last year when Wapda complained about the shortage of funds for the Waran Canal, the USAID came forward and opined in its favour after thoroughly assessing its historical importance and current relevance.

It is pertinent to note that in September 2012 the USAID, in addition to the provision of $80m to help complete the main dam, further provided $12m for the construction of the Waran Canal system.

The tender of Waran Canal system took place in January this year, but the too high bidding competition led to its cancellation. Now the re-tendering is taking an unnecessarily long time despite 10 months after the allocation of funds by the USAID.

What the authorities concerned are failing to realise is that long delays are not only adding to the misery of the people but are also discriminatory and against the basic vision of the dam of bringing the benefits to all the communities.

The people residents of D.I. Khan and Tank districts strongly support the Waran Canal project and request the prime minister to look into the matter. The PTI’s provincial government -– with its holistic economic and social vision – should also take interest in the construction of the Waran Canal system.

This calls for immediate re-tendering of the project so that work on it should begin as soon as possible. The authorities concerned are expected to take special measures to complete the Waran Canal system on time.

D. I. Khan