In an effort to boost agricultural production by irrigating barren land, the government has started constructing a small dam in Raghgan area of Bajaur Agency. Costing approximately Rs195.98 million, the dam will irrigate about 3,500 acres and create new jobs for tribesmen.
According to the Fata Development Authority (FDA), the construction of this dam commenced in February 2013 and is expected to be completed by December 2014. Being built over 197 square kilometers of land, the dam is being financed by the FDA and will be able to store up to 2,536 cusecs of water.
Ihsan Ali, a tribesman, said thousands of acres of land remains uncultivated due to scarcity of water. If irrigation is available, it will help growers meet the budding demand of vegetable items by locals, he added. The dam will also reduce devastation caused by floods.
Muhammad Zahir Shah, a farmer, said the dam will allow them to irrigate otherwise barren land. The soil is good and irrigation can bring a positive change in people’s lives, he added. The land, which was being watered through rain, will now be irrigated through the dam to boost production.
Sabir Ali Shah, a local elder, said the dam will “revolutionize” agriculture in the area and could also be used to encourage tourism where people can spend leisurely time with their families.
FDA Coordinator Ghafar Khan said feasibility studies are being carried out for other similar schemes in the agency, including constructing the Chorak, Nawagai and Kharkano dams. Explaining the process, Ghafar said a survey is conducted in an area to assess its potential. In 2008, an agreement was signed with the locals promising them jobs in these dams.
Dams play a key role in preventing floods and low lying areas will now be protected, said Ghafar. A safety wall will also be built to restrict people living near the dam from entering an unsafe zone, he added.
The FDA coordinator said people have extended support for such uplift schemes.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 28th, 2013.