Design fault or deliberate change

To meet the growing demand of electricity at national level and provide irrigation facility to two subdivisions of tribal district of Mohamand and enhance the flow of water in the lower Swat Canal for the fertile lands of the settled districts of Charsadaa and Mardan,“Munda dam” project was conceived by WAPDA near Abazai in Shaqadar Division. In the government of General Ziaul Haq the then governor of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa Fazal Haq carried out extension work in the British time Munda Headworks, sufficiently enhancing flow of water in lower Swat Canal locally known as Abazai Neher.

The completion of extension work significantly augmented the supply of irrigation water for the northern parts, Hastnagar area and Shakh number 6 of district Charsadda district and adjoining areas of Takhbai subdivision of Mardan district. However, the political leadership of Awami National Party and Qawmi Wattan Party along with other political parties had been forcefully demanding for construction of Munda dam which was later renamed as Mohamand dam. In the President Musharraf government, former federal minster Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao, during his tenures of minster for water and power and then interior used to highlight the benefits of Munda dam for people of districts of Charsadda and Mardan.

The name of the dam was secretly changed when Engineer Shaukatullah was the Governor of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa during the ANP and PPP previous coalition government which people of these settled districts believe was a deliberate attempt ensuring total benefits of irrigation facilities and 100 percent employment opportunities to the tribal district of Mohamand. Never in the history of Pakistan has any dam been given the name of a tribe. It is always the location of the site that matters. Names of the earlier built dams like Warsak, Tarbella and Mangla and now Diyamer Basha are the classic examples. Two canals that will be fed from the reservoir of the dam will provide sufficient irrigation water to Pindyali and Prangghar areas of the tribal district of Mohamand. Although an inch of land or a single person of this district will not be affected by dam’s reservoir but even then all the employment opportunities will accrue to the people of tribal district alone at the expense of two settled district. This will be sheer injustice to the people of the settled districts who had been affected by a number floods in the river Sawat including the devastating flood of 1930 and deluge of July 2010. On the contrary the tribal district of Mohamand had never been affected by floods in this river.

The people of Charsadda district has another worry which pertains to the depletion of water flow in the river downstream of the dam. Small dams which had been constructed with community participation feed six streams for “Sholgara” area which will not get enough irrigation water if bulk of river water flow is diverted to the tribal district. It will affect the yield of cereals like rice, wheat and maize and sugarcane. It is now for the PTI government in the center and Khyber Pukhtunkhwa to decide about constituting a committee comprising the members of parliament elected from these three districts to work a formula for equitable distribution of benefits from the dam before its ground breaking ceremony is performed. Hopefully, the Prime Minister will ensure the principle of equity and justice.