Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) has intensified efforts for the inclusion of a key irrigation project in the second phase of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which experts believe could change fortunes of nearly a million people overnight.
The Chashma Right Bank Canal (CRBC) lift-cum-gravity project was a long-pending scheme to irrigate around 300,000 acres of land, especially in Dera Ismail Khan, K-P’s southern district. These are fertile lands but are not cultivated in the absence of irrigation water. DI Khan Agriculture University expert Dr Shoaib said the project could lift people in four to five districts of K-P from extreme poverty to an unprecedented level of prosperity. Currently, people having hundreds of acres of land there could hardly feed their families. However, if the CRBC lift canal project is executed, these poverty-stricken people will become millionaires in a matter of days, Shoaib commented.
He labelled the project as a real game changer given its agricultural and economic impact on the vast population.
The K-P government has been asking the federal government to help it in executing the costly project, but the federal government has been sceptical for decades due to $1 billion approximate cost of the project.
However, as Pakistan accelerated paperwork for the second phase of CPEC, the K-P government extensively lobbied for the project to be taken up in the 10th Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) meeting.The federal government agreed with the province on the inclusion of the project in CPEC but after review of its PC-1, after which Pakistan’s Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) was asked to revisit the project concept given the demographic and other developments in the region.
Subsequently, on November 1, Wapda sought proposals from interested parties for carrying out a fresh study of the project, a senior official in the K-P irrigation department narrated. Wapda GM Media Abid Rana confirmed the news and added that the proposals could be submitted by December 15, after which the same would be scrutinised. Gomal Zam Dam Executive Engineer Abdullah stated that the CRBC lift canal project could bring about a revolution in the southern districts of K-P.
He said K-P Chief Minister Mehmood Khan and provincial chief secretary were taking up the project at every relevant forum due to its importance.
THIS ARTICLE ORIGINALLY APPEARED ON THE CHINA ECONOMIC NET
Published in The Express Tribune, November 24th, 2020.
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