Karachi: The approval of the project of building 16 small dams on rain waterways in Gadap Town by the Sindh government has brought hope for the residents. The project sites have been identified and the authorities hope the work will start soon, The News has learned.
Gadap Town Municipal Officer (TMO), Gul Hassan Kalmati told The News that the dams construction project has been approved by Sindh Chief Minister (CM) Syed Qaim Ali Shah on the request of the Gadap Town Nazim. The CM issued directives to the secretary of the irrigation department, who has assured that the project would be initiated soon after a feasibility survey is conducted.
Kalmati said that the cost and capacity of the dams would vary, depending upon their location. The Town official told The News that the provision of water is the main problem for the communities living at far off areas, and hoped that the dams would provide water to the communities for domestic need and would facilitate small growers and herders. He said that these projects would aid the process of recharging wells and underground water as well.
Once the most prosperous area for farmers and herders, Gadap Town is now beset with numerous problems. The area used to contribute enough stock of vegetables and fruits to the markets of Karachi. After the excavation of gravel for construction purposes, the land gradually lost its fertility, compelling herders and farmers to migrate to other areas.
The TMO said that the irrigation department had already launched work to build two dams prior to this project. After the construction of 16 dams, he said, around 75 per cent of the town’s population would have access to safe drinking water. Out of these 16 dams, four will be built in Moidan Union Council, the most remote mountainous area, along the Hub River near the Sindh-Balochistan border. These four dams in Moidan will benefit the dwellers of all 75 small and scattered villages surrounding the area.
Residents of Moidan meanwhile told The News that there is a popular saying in the neighborhood, saying that “in Moidan every thing can be borrowed except water.” They said that that since underground water is contaminated in the entire area, they have to fetch water from far-off areas.
Another problem pointed out by Kalmati was that as a result of the activities of land grabbers, new villages had been built and the local communities had been disturbed. He said that the Gadap Town Nazim, after consultation with the local communities, has suggested to the provincial government that the process of village regularization be made transparent, especially in the suburbs of Karachi.
The Gadap Town official said despite the government’s assurances, residents of several far-off villages have still not got lease documents, and people feel unsafe there as the land grabbers continue to occupy the land. The residents of Karachi suburbs had expected more from the current government in terms of development. However, little uplift activity has left many annoyed with legislators, he added.
Karachi Rural Network (KRN) Chairman Salim Memon told The News that sincerity is lacking on the part of the government. It is for this reason, he alleged, announcements of new uplift schemes are only for purposes of paperwork, while there is no sign of these projects being implemented. He said that the most urgent need is to implement the ban on excavation of gravel from the natural river bed.
Memon also said that some influential people are involved in this business, which has almost destroyed agriculture, orchards, and greenery. He also pointed out that the entire livestock and dairy industry has been shifted to the city suburbs, where water supply is mostly contaminated due to the flow of waste from the city centre to the suburbs.