DERA GHAZI KHAN: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan during his visit to the flood-hit areas in Rujhan demanded the construction of Marunj and Sorra dams in Rajanpur and Dera Ghazi Khan districts to get rid of the ravages of flood in mountain drains.

The purposed dams have a history. Studies have established the projects will help tame the violent waters of drains of the mountainous Sulaiman Range. The Marunj Dam in Rajanpur was first purposed in the tenure of late president Farooq Leghari, while the Sorra Dam in Taunsa was conceived in the tenure of former chief minister Usman Ahmed Buzdar.

Talking to Dawn, former provincial irrigation minister and now provincial finance minister Mohsin Leghari said the Sorra Dam would be built on the Sorra branch of the hill torrent Sanghar with the estimated cost of Rs10 billion while the dam level would be 258 feet higher than the river. The site of the dam is 60 kilometres in the west of Taunsa.

The proposed dam would irrigate 9,600 acres, including 7,920 acres with drip irrigation and high pressurized drip irrigation system and 1,680 acres through the conventional irrigation system. The dam level would be 258 feet higher than the river with a storage capacity of 51,000 feet acres water.

The provincial government has already initiated work on the dam, the minister added. Regarding the construction of the Marunj Dam, Mr Leghari told Dawn that the project would be constructed across the Kaha Sultan mountain drain, about 15 kilometer (km) from Mari Hill resort and 116 km west of Rajanpur.

The Kaha Sultan drain is one of the largest hill torrents of the mountainous Sulaiman Range with an average annual inflows of 183,000 acre feet. The available water resources are very scarce in Rajanpur and adjoining areas facing acute shortage of fresh water for drinking and agriculture. The dam would store water for irrigation of agriculture land and would also provide drinking, but its main purpose is flood mitigation and power generation.

It has gross water storage of 800,000 acre feet. It would be third mega dam after Tarbela and Mangla dams, the minister claimed.

The annual monsoon rains give rise to hill torrents causing inundation of thousands of acres of land in the adjoining foothills and rendering damages to public property and cultivated land each year. The project would generate 12 megawatts (MW) of cheap and environmentally-friendly electricity. It is unique in nature for southern Punjab and would help alleviate poverty from the remote and backward region.

The minister said the project would change existing economic indicators and uplift the living standard of the people.

The project would have tangible benefits and bring about 120,000 acres into irrigable lot.

Meanwhile, Jafar Buzdar, spokesperson for former chief minister Usman Buzdar, told Dawn the former chief minister brought branches of the departments ABAD and Dam section working in arid zone of Pothohar to Dera Ghazi Khan for the development of an arid zone of Dera Ghazi Khan and Rajanpur.

He claimed that Usman Buzdar approved the construction of Sorra, Mahoi, Jalaibi Morr, Zinda Pir, Qadoor and Marunj dams in his tenure to tame violent waters of at 14 hill torrents. He maintained that work on Sorra Dam would start from Sept 15.

Published in Dawn, September 6th, 2022

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