CHITRAL: Residents of Sorech village in the Rech sub-valley of Upper Chitral district said they had not chopped down a single tree for cooking and heating purposes since the commissioning of the hydropower station in their village three years ago, thereby increasing the forest cover.

Talking to reporters here on Sunday, Mohammad Nadir, Abdul Nasir, Iqbal Murad and Musa Khan said that during the extended winter season of five months, they used fuel wood in large quantity, harvesting hundreds of trees every year as it was the only source available to them.

However, they said that the power project of 500 kilowatt constructed by Aga Khan Rural Support Programme under its Central Asian Poverty Programme had relieved them of the issue of firewood.

The residents said that flash floods in the mountainous village had also come to an end since the cutting of trees was stopped over the last three years.

They said that the village organisation fixed the lowest possible rate of electricity per unit at only Rs4. They said that the 186 households lavishly used the power for cooking, heating and lighting purposes.

They added that the provision of cheap electricity had brought convenience to them in different fields, saying women had also started using power for promotion of local embroidery and weaving products.

The residents said that the amount of money, which many people spent on purchasing wood, was now utilised for raising the standard of their living, while the use of green energy had also helped decrease a number of diseases caused by excessive inhaling of carbon emitted by firewood.

Published in Dawn, April 22nd, 2024

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