Chitral villagers announce protest over water shortage

31 Aug 2019

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residents fetch drinking water in jerrycans from Chitral River in Mori Payeen village. — Dawn
residents fetch drinking water in jerrycans from Chitral River in Mori Payeen village. — Dawn

CHITRAL: The residents of Mori Payeen, Barghuzi and Kuju Bala villages have decided to block the Chitral-Booni Road at Kaghuzi to protest the apathetic attitude of the government towards their plight caused by the drought-like situation in the area after the siphon pipes were washed away by glacial lake outburst flood (Glof) on July 7.

Talking to mediapersons visiting the villages on Friday, the residents, including Khawaja Amanullah, Zafar Khan, Mohammad Sharif and others, complained that the villages had been facing acute shortage of water for last about two months, losing their decades-old fruit orchards, vegetables, crops of maize, pulses and fodder.

They said that they had also sold their livestock at throwaway prices after the villages were rendered without vegetation for want of water.

Water supply system was washed away by floods about two months ago

The villagers said that they earned a large sum of money for their sustenance by selling the grains of maize, pulses, pomegranates and tomato while for many households the agriculture was the only source of income. They said they were forced to fetch water from the River Chitral situated at large distance from the villages, while the poor hygienic conditions caused by water shortage had also triggered diseases in the villages.

The villagers said on one hand the government was boasting of billion tree tsunami project, but on the other, the three villages were losing trees on hundreds of acres of land to water shortage.

They said a small amount of about Rs10 million could resolve the problem as 130 pipes of 20-foot length and eight inches in diameter in Mori, 110 in Barghuzi and 100 in Kuju Bala villages could reconnect the siphon system with the Golen Gol stream.

They said that the villagers would carry out the work on ‘self-help’ basis if the pipes were provided to them. They lamented that the Lower Chitral deputy commissioner had promised them to provide the pipes within three days after the floods, but to no avail. They said that the villagers would have no option but to go on a protest till the acceptance of their demand.

When contacted, Lower Chitral DC Naveed Ahmed said funds for rehabilitation of the infrastructure battered by the floods were in the final phase of approval by the provincial government. He said that he would not lose a moment in providing the pipes to the affected villages who were really passing through an ordeal due to the disconnection of water source about two months ago.

Published in Dawn, August 31st, 2019