BAHRAIN, SWAT: The chief minister of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa is scheduled to visit Swat’s towns of Kohistan, Bahrain and Kalam on April 30, to inaugurate two hydel projects: the Daral Khwar Hydropower Project in Bahrain and the Mitiltan Hydropower Project in Kalam. The former is a controversial project and I say this because the Asian Development Bank, which was one of its donors, backed out.
The residents of Bahrain and its surrounding areas have been fighting for their rights to clean drinking water and a clean environment since 2009. Their local economy — dependent mostly on tourism and agriculture — are linked to the well-being of the Daral River. However, if the Daral Khwar project goes through, this river will become dry, at least for the people who live in the town of Bahrain, and as a result their livelihoods could be badly affected.
I and several other residents of Bahrain have sent letters of concern and protest to the office of the chief minister several times. We have had meetings with the party’s provincial president, the district administration, representatives of the provincial environment protection agency and even with officials of the Sarhad Development Organisation.
We, the residents of the town of Bahrain in Swat, would like to appeal to the honourable chief minister of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa to reconsider the Daral Khwar project because in its current form as it does not at all address the valid concerns of the people of the town, who will be affected if the hydel scheme is built.
Also, if I could use this forum to remind the chief minister that several major roads in Swat which were badly damaged in the floods of 2010 still have to rebuilt. One of these is the road from Baghdheri, from the point from where the PK-85 constituency starts, and leads all the way to Kalam. At present, it is like a dried-up river and unless one has a four-by-four vehicle, it is very arduous to travel on it.
Also, the provincial government should consider setting up a campus of the Swat University either in Kalam or around Bahrain and also a degree college for women. Most of the schools for girls and boys in the area are non-functional and for this the local education department officials need to be held responsible.
Idara Baraye Taleem-o-Taraqi (IBT)
Published in The Express Tribune, April 22nd, 2012.