Dharabi Dam is a perfect example of wastage of money and apathy in public departments as, after eating up huge amount, it still serves no purpose.
The dam worth Rs353 million was launched in April 2006 with the aim to irrigate huge swathe of land but technically it turned out to be a nonstarter as the farmland it supposed to irrigate situated at a height.
This technical flaw was pointed out at the time when the project existed only on paper, but the foundation of the dam was laid by the then chief minister Pervaiz Ellahi on April 13, 2006 at the behest of former district nazim Sardar Ghulam Abbas (who was a right hand man of Pervaiz Ellahi at that time and now is a big figure of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf in Chakwal district) and the project was to be completed in 2008.
However, the construction of dam was completed in 2009 and the canals were being given final touches in 2010 when the project hit snags due to change of government in Punjab in 2008 as it stopped releasing funds for the project.
The present MPs are also not taking any interest in this major project.
Besides 117,000-foot-long canals for the irrigation of land of eight villages, a building was also to be built beside the dam.
Dharabi Dam which is the largest water reservoir in the district has the capacity of storing 37,000 acre feet of water which would have irrigated 6,400 acre of land.
Now most of the canals have disappeared due to soil erosion and mushroom growth of bushes which have covered them. The farmers of the villages concerned have lost hopes saying their land would never be watered through this dam.
“I gave my land for the dam with the hope that it would irrigate the farmland of the area and give a boost to agriculture as they only depend on rainwater,” Chaudhry Farrukh Nawaz Khan of Balkasar village said.
“We fell over the honeyed words of former district nazim Sardar Ghulam Abbas who told us that the dam would irrigate our land but now the disappeared canals testifies that our land would never be irrigated”, regrets Ghulam Mustafa another farmer.
Joji Shah the then opposition leader in District Council expressed his serious concerns over the controversial project and told Dawn that the project was bound to fail as due to the height of the land the canals would serve no purpose. “I raised my serious objections and asked for the concrete facts that how could the dam irrigate the land situated at a height,” he maintains.
Talking to Dawn former district nazim Sardar Ghulam Abbas said that the project was launched in the best interest of farmers.
“In 2008 eighty per cent of work on the first phase had been completed but with the change of government the work stopped,” he claims.
Putting the blame on the present MPs he said that his rivals did not want to see the project functional as it was launched by him.
“If this project is not made functional, it would be a heavy loss”, he concludes.
When contacted, Sub Divisional Officer of Small Dams, Pervez Iqbal Bosal confirmed that due to ‘tough route’ the canals could not be made functional yet. “We are making our hectic efforts to make the project functional as soon as possible but at the same time we are facing certain problems also”, he adds.
On the other hand the contractors who got the project in 2005 are reluctant to repair the broken canals as they are demanding additional funds due to rising cost of construction material.
When the attention of PML N MNA Sardar Mumtaz Tamman, in whose constituency the dam falls, was drawn towards the issue, he said: “This is a major project and I would make all out efforts to make it functional”.