Tribal elders ask govt to abandon Burj Aziz Dam project

Published April 11, 2021
Farmers of Nushki and Chagai dependent on seasonal river fear the dam will deprive them of their livelihood. — Dawn/File
Farmers of Nushki and Chagai dependent on seasonal river fear the dam will deprive them of their livelihood. — Dawn/File

QUETTA: Leaders of the United Tribes All Parties Nushki have urged the government to abandon the Burj Aziz Dam project, saying it would “convert agriculture lands of Nushki district into a desert and deprive people of their livelihood”.

Addressing a joint press conference on Saturday, Sardar Asif Sher Jamaldini, Mir Khurshid Ahmad Jamaldini, former member of the Balochistan Assembly Mir Shabbir Badini, Mir Zahir Mandai and Mir Azam Mandai said that the construction of Burj Aziz Dam was a matter of “life and death” for the people of the area.

They said that people of Nushki and Chagai districts had been opposing the construction of Burj Aziz Dam since 1980 when the project was proposed.

The government, they said, had planned to build the dam at the seasonal Bor-Nullah River, which irrigated huge tracts of farmland in Daak and other areas of the two districts and was a source of livelihood for local people. Since 1980 the project was hanging like a sword over the heads of the residents of the area.

Farmers of Nushki and Chagai dependent on seasonal river fear dam will deprive them of their livelihood

“The government wants to construct this dam just to provide water to the Quetta city and its surrounding areas. It will be a great injustice if the people of the two districts are deprived of the chance of cultivating their lands for earning their livelihood,” Mr Asif Jamaldini said.

The tribal elders said that earlier the Afghan government had planned to build a dam in the Helmand province of Afghanistan by blocking rainwater of seasonal Bor-Nullah River, but it dropped the project under the rainwater harvesting laws after the tribes in the bordering districts of Balochistan opposed it.

They said that the provincial government should make alternative arrangements for providing water to the people of Quetta district and abandon the Burj Aziz Dam project for saving the people of Nushki and Chagai from starvation.

“The people of both the districts will not accept construction of the proposed dam at any cost,” they warned, adding that the government would be responsible for any untoward situation.

The tribal elders said that mineral-rich Chagai and Nushki districts were playing an important role in the country’s economy by producing gold, silver, copper, iron ore and other precious minerals but their districts had been deprived of even basic amenities.

“There is no mineral college or university in these districts and public representatives also do not think of setting up any minerals-based factory in Chagai and Nushki districts,” the tribal elders complained.

Published in Dawn, April 11th, 2021

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