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RAWALPINDI: The Directorate of Soil Conservation Rawalpindi region constructed 102 mini-dams in the Potohar region during the last two years along with 201 ponds, 39 storage tanks, 148 gabion spurs and 28 earthen bunds.

These projects were completed under the provincial government’s Kissan Package and the directorate’s own programme.

Director of the department Malik Ghulam Akbar told this agency that a total 1,504 structures, including 337 gully plugging, 353 water disposal outlets and 298 retaining walls, were constructed in the region during the financial years 2016-17 and 2017-18.

Directorate of Soil Conservation also built 201 ponds, 39 storage tanks and 148 spurs, official says

Nearly 80pc subsidy was provided to the farmers for the completion of these schemes, he added.

Due to the construction of the reservoirs and soil erosion controlling structures, nearly 32,190 acres was made cultivable.

The construction of the mini-dams and ponds also developed positive environmental effects.

The underground water table is rising up with more employment opportunities for the residents, he said.

“Fish and cattle farming businesses are now flourishing. The mini-dams and ponds are used to divert water for irrigation and other purposes,” he said, adding the water stored in the mini-dams can be utilised for vegetable and fruit cultivation.

Fish farming was also introduced in the region which has become an additional source of income for the farmers. All interventions of soil and water conservation are benefiting the farmers.

He said the department also planted saplings on 334.50 acres.

To a question, the official said earlier the department had constructed over 1,200 mini-dams. A mini-dam is constructed on 40 acres. He said revolutionary steps were taken for the development of agriculture in the region.

Mr Akbar said the major problems in the Potohar region were soil erosion and water runoff as most of the rainwater was wasted which also caused soil erosion at a large scale.

To cope with the situation, various steps were taken under the Kissan Package, he added.

The official added that the Potohar region was facing a severe shortage of water and the situation necessitated efficient irrigation system such as drip and sprinkler systems. He said the department was providing 60pc subsidy on drip and sprinkler irrigation system.

Drip irrigation system has 90 to 95pc efficiency and sprinkler irrigation system saves 60 to 70pc water compared to traditional irrigation system, he added.

Drip system has helped irrigate over 4,443 acres while 1,090 acres was covered through sprinkler irrigation system installed during the last two years.

The water management department is also providing 80pc subsidy to the farmers for installation of solar system. It is economical, an effective and environment friendly technology, he added.

He said the department was also striving to promote tunnel farming and 50pc subsidy was being provided to the farmers for installing tunnels to produce off-season vegetables and fruits. At present, over 100 acres is under tunnel farming in the Potohar region.

Published in Dawn, August 27th, 2018