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Kalabagh Dam and Daral project

December 15, 2012

THE chief of ANP, Asfandyar Wali Khan, recently said: “It [Kalabagh dam] is a human issue for my province”.

Whether the Kalabagh Dam is a boon or bane for Pakistan, let the experts analyse it but a minor hydropower project in Bahrain in Swat is deemed by the community to be no less than a disaster.

It is called the Daral Khwar Hydropower Project with a capacity of 36 megawatts. In the design a river Daral — a lifeline for agriculture, environment, tourism and economy of the people -- is to be diverted beyond the dwelling of the community, leaving the river dry for nine months in a year.

As the community consists of just 40,000 persons, there is no mention in Pakistan where only the majority’s elite can protect their rights.

The ANP seems justified in opposing the Kalabagh Dam as the dam may harm the plains of Nowshera, Swabi, Peshawar and Charsada. Sindh seems justified as the dam may dry the great Indus River and, consequently, benefit the plains of north and central Punjab.

But one feels dejected when the same rule is not applied to areas where a minority has its life dependent on rivers.

Despite raising their concerns with the incumbent KP government, the community of the Daral river was bypassed and, where possible, divided into groups so that the government might go for the construction of the project.

The MPAs and ministers kept the end-users of the Daral river out of their consultation and brought the beneficiaries -- those whose lands were purchased for the project -- to oppose the users by fueling old communal feuds.

If Kalabagh is a human tragedy for Nowshera, Mardan, Peshawar and Charsada, so is Daral Khwar Hydropower Project for the 40,000 people of Bahrain and the Daral valley. The same concern should be shown for the helpless and hapless community of Bahrain though they are a minority and have no political rights.