RAWALPINDI: A total of 56 small dams in the Rawalpindi division provide water to 72,000 acres of agricultural land, and 10 more will be completed soon that will cater to another 52,000 acres in the Potohar region, a meeting at the commissioner’s office was informed on Thursday.

The meeting was chaired by Punjab Minister for Revenue retired Col Mohammad Anwar and attended by Irrigation Secretary Ahmed Javed Qazi, Divisional Commssioner retired Capt Saqib Zafar, Deputy Commissioner Ali Randhawa, local MPAs and senior administration officials.

The meeting was also informed that the Daducha Dam will be launched soon to supply drinking water to city residents and end the shortage of water. The government is also planning to set up a water studies centre along the dam site to carry out research.

MPAs from Rawalpindi were told that dams provide water for agriculture as well as recreational facilities. They were informed that the Potohar region is an arid agriculture area facing a water shortage, and small dams will improve the local agriculture sector.

There are two dams in Islamabad, eight in Rawalpindi, 10 in Jhelum, 16 in Attock and 20 in Chakwal.

The divisional commissioner asked the irrigation department to provide a complete study on the impact of the construction of small dams in the four districts, particularly on the agriculture sector and the increase recorded in seasonal crops such as wheat.

Participants also discussed fish farming in small dams. They said the irrigation department should not use small dams for fish farming as it causes the area to smell. Instead, fish farms should be established separately.

MPAs pointed out excessive construction in the region by housing societies and asked the concerned authorities to carry out proper planning for the housing sector to protect agricultural land.

Mr Anwar asked the irrigation department to survey areas around small dams and compile a report on problems facing farmers.

He said that in plain areas, canals are the main source for agriculture but in arid areas small dams would improve the agriculture sector and the groundwater level. He said the supply of water from small dams needs to be improved further.

Modern techniques should be utilised by the agriculture sector that conserve water and increase production, he added. Crops will be increased using technology to overcome food scarcity, he said.

The deputy commissioner said that the district administration was working to plant more trees in the district and the forest department has been asked to plant useful trees in order to end environmental degradation.

Published in Dawn, July 12th, 2019

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