By Hamid Khan Wazir
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: The much-needed Shakai Dam is unlikely to see the light of the day in the near future, as construction work stopped on the dam since long that irked the dwellers of the scenic valley especially the educated youths.
The construction work on the much-talked-about Shakai Dam in tehsil Shakai of district South Waziristan was started some four years ago with great fanfare with an estimated cost of Rs 676.143 million, is being delayed due to various excuses; however, the authorities concerned are little bothered in this regard.
These views were expressed by Shakai youths who are all set to stage a protest demonstration against the long delay of the fate-changing project in the scenic valley.
They said that the project is of paramount importance and they would raise the voice at every forum to ensure its completion.
The long-neglected Shakai, with a population of around 70,000, is one of the most picturesque valleys in the country, located some 33 km north of Wana, headquarter of South Waziristan. People from all over the country visit the beautiful hill resorts especially on Eid festivals to immerse themselves in mountains covered with lush green trees, cold atmosphere, fresh air, and most importantly, clouds on the roads hugging you full of happiness.
The Shakai youths decided to hold a protest demonstration on June 5, 2020 (Friday) to press the government to restart the long-halted construction work on the project.
They said that people from all walks of life have been invited to participate in the protest demonstration in a bid to wake up the concerned quarters of their sweet slumber to initiate the work on the project, besides taking the responsibility to the task.
As per their plan, the youths would demand Ajmal Khan Wazir, Adviser to the chief minister KP on information, MNA Ali Wazir, and MPA Naseer Khan Wazir to take the issue at an appropriate level so as to ensure its completion.
It is pertinent to mention here that the Fata Development Authority (FDA) had proposed the federal government the launch of the Shakai small dam project to help alleviate poverty in an area where farmers mainly depend on rainfall.
Hydrological studies show that an annual inflow of 1,827 acre-feet of water is available in the main Shakai stream to meet the irrigation requirement of about 1,000 acres of barren land.
It was reported that the first-ever large-scale development project in the area named ‘Shakai Dam’ would be funded by the federal government through the FATA Secretariat and the life span of the project was estimated to be 57 years.
However, in the aftermath of the merger of the FATA into KP, now it is the responsibility of the KP government and people of the area attached high hopes that the provincial government would pay special attention to complete the project timely but contrary to it the authorities concerned put the project in a cold oven.
The project, with a storage capacity of 1,193 AF of water, which would be irrigated 900 acres of agricultural land on the left bank of the main Shakai stream. Only 462 acres of land is currently under cultivation, which is mainly dependent on the rain, it was reported.
The dam would have a storage tank of about 0.096 million gallons to supply drinking water to 3,200 people, where no drinking water supply exists and people have to bring water from distant places.
Moreover, the construction of Shakai Dam would ensure the purposeful and effective use of the available water, which would help reduce the intensity of floods by storing water, besides irrigating agricultural land, facilitating socio-economic uplift of the area by alleviating poverty in the area, if it was completed as per the already approved design, which was changed and redesigned to reduce its cost.
The feasibility study for the scheme was carried out by M/S Techno-Consult International, in association with M/S Electra Consultants, Peshawar, and EASE-Pak Consultants, Lahore, Pakistan.
According to the survey, an area of about 1,000 acres lies barren for want of irrigation water, so the area, if supplied with water for irrigation may produce crops sufficient to cater to the needs of the whole area.
The site proposed for the dam is the best one to utilize the flood water for irrigation purposes.
The geology of the area is quite favorable and suitable for the construction of the earth’s core rock fill dam. A large volume of the river bed is available at the project site to facilitate the construction of an earth-filled embankment.
The people of the area demanded that the government would not only ensure completion of the dam as per the already approved design rather than the remodeled and resigned model which less its effectiveness.