Chitral villagers hit by long delay in rehab of irrigation system

Published October 28, 2019
The glacial lake outburst flood (glof), which hit the Golen valley on July 7 this year, has left poverty-stricken people in peril in Golen, Mori Payeen, Barghuzi and Kuju Bala villages. — Photo by Sirajuddin/File
The glacial lake outburst flood (glof), which hit the Golen valley on July 7 this year, has left poverty-stricken people in peril in Golen, Mori Payeen, Barghuzi and Kuju Bala villages. — Photo by Sirajuddin/File

CHITRAL: The glacial lake outburst flood (glof), which hit the Golen valley on July 7 this year, has left poverty-stricken people in peril in Golen, Mori Payeen, Barghuzi and Kuju Bala villages.

Villagers complain that an inordinate delay in the rehabilitation of the siphon irrigation system had left the crops of wheat, pulses, fodder, vegetables and fruits vulnerable, while maize hadn’t been cultivated.

Rizwanullah advocate of Barghuzi village said the ‘economy’ of all four affected villages had been badly affected due to the disconnection of irrigation water, while the government wasted time for its rehabilitation.

He said the four villages were known throughout the district for fertile land, where a variety of pulses, vegetables, grapes and pomegranates on a commercial scale, while cheese and desi ghee was also produced in the area.

The villager said all three villages got irrigation water from the Golen valley through siphon system, which was washed away by glof suspending water supply.

He added that the villagers had to wait for the government’s help, which came but only after they lost a large chunk of their economy.

Mohammad Nabi Khan of Mori Payeen said the cultivation of wheat for the coming season had been affected in his village as farmers had lost capacity to buy seeds, fertilisers and pesticides and faced the shortage of irrigation water as the siphon system had yet to be restored to ensure smooth water supply by pipes.

He said the pair of oxen to plough fields was also unavailable as farmers had sold livestock, including oxen, cows, goats and sheep when the village virtually became a desert after the severing of water supply.

The villager said cereal crops and fruits had zero output this year that used to provide hard cash to many families to meet the entire year’s household expenses.

He said many affluent villagers had turned indigent after losing the source of their livelihood due to the drought caused by unavailability of water.

Former district nazim Maghfirat Shah said the local government was penniless, while his repeated requests to the government to restore irrigation system in the glof-hit villages had fallen on deaf ears.

He said only Rs3.5 million was required for the purpose but it had taken more than two months for the government to manage the meagre amount of money.

Mr Shah said the government was bound by the law to compensate the calamity-affected villagers to help them make ends meet especially after they lost everything from chickens to livestock to cereal crops and fruits to drought due to the sheer negligence of the government.

He said water supply to a large part of Chitral city had yet to be restored by the public health engineering department as glof had affected it, while water pipes were washed away.

Published in Dawn, October 28th, 2019

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