Dwellers of Swat’s remote Lagankar village have a reason to celebrate. They can illuminate their houses and use modern electric appliances to ease daily chores. As a means to uplift the living standards of poor and marginalised communities, the Sarhad Rural Support Programme set up a 30-kilowatt micro hydropower station at the village on Sunday.
“Transforming rural resources and using them to meet local needs is a vital element of rural development,” Abdul Samad, the team leader of the programme, said at the hydropower station’s inauguration ceremony. “It encourages poor communities to bring sustainable change in their livelihoods and improve their living standards,” he added.
With their previous hydropower station washed away in the 2010 floods, the villagers seemed excited to have electricity at their village again. They said when they asked the government to provide them electricity they did not get a positive response.
Saranzeb, president of a local community organisation, said that though the previous power station generated less electricity and did no meet their needs, the village was “left in complete darkness” when it got washed away.
With a literacy rate of 2%, the village has a population of 640 in some 80 households. Majority of them earn livelihood by farming, while some work in coal mines and sugarcane industries in southern parts of the valley.
“These days almost every trade utilises electrical appliances,” said Akbar Zada, a local carpenter.
He said he would see electric appliances of his interest in the downtown markets but could not use them because there was no electricity in his village. “Now I will be able to use electric tools and get rid of the tiresome manual equipment,” he added.
Mohammad Naeem, a sub-divisional magistrate of Bahrain Tehsil, appreciated the initiative and urged locals to maintain the power station responsibly in order to reap its long-term benefits.
The project has been funded by Imran Khan Foundation.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2012.