SWAT: Crops already cultivated in the Khwazakhela sub-district of Swat stand to go to waste as the area’s irrigation channels completely collapsed after the floods.
Residents of the area on Tuesday organised a protest against what they called the government’s apathetic attitude in dealing with the devastation caused by the flooding.
“The entire irrigation system of the area was washed away due to the floods,” an elder of the area Haji Waheedur Rahman said. “The three channels irrigate thousands of acres of agricultural land and the already cultivated crops will go to waste without proper irrigation. This loss will only multiply the issues people are facing in the aftermath of the floods.”
Elders of the area have set an ultimatum of ten days for the restoration of the three irrigation channels and the roads from Khwazakhela to Matta and to Madyan. Protesters threatened the local administration that if the problem is not resolved in the coming month, they will go on a hunger strike.
“If the channels are not reconstructed on an emergency basis, starvation will break out in the area,” said former Khwazakhela nazim Advocate Rafiqur Rehman, adding that they had met the commissioner of the Malakand division, the DCO and army officers to brief them about the issues of the area. Supporting the hunger strike, he said that they will block the main supply line for the area and all responsibility will fall on the government.
The government, say residents, has mostly been absent and where it has intervened, the response has been unsatisfactory.
“The irrigation department is absent from the scene. It has been very irresponsible in fulfilling out its duties,” Rehman said.
Local elder Toti Khan spoke of the isolation the residents feel. “Politically and administratively, we have become orphans. There is no leader to stand by the bereaved people in this time of misery.”
Hinting towards corruption, protesters questioned where were the millions of aid money going and said that the cash disappears before it reaches the people who actually need it. They suggested that committees, comprising members from every political party, must be formed to monitor foreign aid.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 2nd, 2010.
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