|A man uses axe to cut ice on Lowari Top near Upper Dir. — Dawn|
UPPER DIR: Frequent power outages have forced the people of Upper Dir to rely on mountain ice for domestic use, particularly cooling water off, in the fasting month.
As the mercury across the mountainous belt has shot up, the villagers of Dir throng the Lowari top to bring ice blocks to their homes.
As poor people have been using the Lowari top ice for years during summers, this year, even rich people have been forced to use it because their refrigerators do not make ice due to loadshedding and low voltage.
Lowari top receives heavy ice of up to 7 to 10 meters during winter. And during summer it is used by the people of Upper Dir as well as the other districts for domestic use.
Scores of local people earn their livelihoods by selling the mountain ice.
Rehmanuddin, resident of Lowari top, told Dawn they earned their living in summer season by loading ice into vehicles to be sold in markets. “We must thank Allah for giving us a good earning opportunity near our homes,” said Wazir Khan, while loading ice into vehicles. He said he earned from Rs1,000 to Rs1,200 a day.
However, Sultan Zareen said bringing ice from mountains on backs and then loading it onto the vehicles was a tough task, and that the local people did it out of poverty. “If I had an alternative source of income I wouldn’t have done this.” He accused ice dealers of disrespecting the labourers.
Loadshedding has even forced people from other areas like Mardan, Dargai, Batkhela, Malakand, Timergara, Sherghar to come to Lowari top to get ice.
Fida Mohammad said he came all the way from Mardan to take mountain ice for selling it in his home district. He said he not only got handsome profit from the business, but also had a chance to serve up the people of his area, who were worst hit by the loadshedding in the hot weather. He said he left Mardan at midnight for Upper Dir and returned at 5pm in the evening daily.
Gul Faraz, another ice loader, said massive consumption of mountain ice had depleted the commodity at the Lowari top.
Published in Dawn, June 30th, 2015