Power projects to empower Kalam dwellers


Chief Minister (5k+ posts)
KALAM: The dwellers of this picturesque valley would not only get sufficient electricity for domestic and commercial use, but also earn a handsome income for community development from the two power projects inaugurated during the recent visit of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervez Khattak here.

The scenic Kalam valley, which attracts thousands of tourists every year, has been without electricity after the two powerhouses were partially damaged by the insurgency and later completely vanished by the devastating floods in 2010.

Unable to rebuild them for various reasons, the Sarhad Hydel Development Organisation (SHYDO) transferred the sites to the Sarhad Rural Support Programme (SRSP) for rebuilding and running them through its community organisations. The SRSP decided to rebuild the projects with the financial assistance of the European Union.

“The two projects will cost Rs190 million and produce one and a half megawatt electricity to benefit 2,840 domestic users and 764 commercial centres mostly hotels,” said SRSP Chief Executive Officer Masoodul Mulk in a briefing that was attended Imran Khan, Pervez Khattak and PTI leader Jehangir Tareen among others.

Masoodul Mulk explained that the project would be run as a social enterprise and any surplus income coming from it would be given to communities for their social development. He added that both the projects would be completed before the next tourist season. “We are aware of the fact that winter is falling soon. But we would work hard despite weather condition to complete the projects within the stipulated time,” he added.

A drinking water project that had been previously built by the Public Health Engineering Department (PHED) would also be rehabilitated at the cost of Rs4 million that would benefit over 2,000 households, he added.

Imran Khan and the chief minister appreciated the initiatives and vowed to extend cooperation to the SRSP in launching innovative and people-friendly projects throughout the province. “We are ready to extend all-out cooperation to the SRSP and would provide whatever funds they require for uplift schemes across the province,” said Pervez Khattak.

Later, the visiting dignitaries attended a public meeting with communities, which besides Imran Khan and Pervez Khattak, was also addressed by Shoaib Sultan Khan, chairman of Regional Support Programme Network (RSPN).

The communities in the meeting expressed their determination to see the projects a success. They also narrated many instances of problem-solving by them through collective participation.

Shoaib Sultan Khan said that unless communities were organised and steps taken to improve their livelihoods, the devolution plan of the government would not have a big impact.

The meeting was notable for the high-level of discipline and restrain shown by the communities who waited for long hours for the visitors to arrive and laid stress on their own potential to contribute to the development process. Quite in contrast to this was the rowdiness and indiscipline of some of the over enthusiastic youth of PTI who were determined to gatecrash into the meeting that had been organised on a non-partisan basis and give it political overtones.

The decision of the government to address development issues in this remote region, which had remained unaddressed for a long period, was lauded by the communities and the decision to use innovative ways to solve them was also appreciated by the people.

“The SRSP plans to implement 341 micro hydro stations in different parts of the Malakand Division with the financial support of the European Union to supplement the electricity being supplied by WAPDA and SHYDO and benefit from the immense potential for development of hydropower in the region,” said Zahid Khan, programme manager of the SRSP.

“Now, I am sure that we will get electricity on permanent basis,” said Malik Nameer Khan, a local elder. He said the local people were happy as they were being taken into confidence while launching projects in the area.

“The ownership of the locals is a must for the success of any project. I hope the projects will have great impact on living standards of the people of the area,” said Syed Jaffer Shah, a member of the KP Assembly from the area.

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