Right Bank Canal (CRBC), which is of special importance for agriculture and drinking water in the southern districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, especially Dera Ismail Khan, was broken in several places due to the worst floods last year. The length of this canal is about three kilometres, and now its repair work has entered the last and final stages from Head Juma Sharif to Jhok Abdullah after a long delay.
Lakhs of acres of land in Damaan, which is irrigated by this canal, receives water from this canal, and from this area, wheat, sugarcane, rice, maise, vegetables, and other commodities are supplied to Dera Ismail Khan district and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
Abdul Rahman, a local sugar mill employee, said that sugarcane is cultivated in large quantities in the lands settled along the CRBC because there are three big sugar mills on Karachi Road adjacent to this canal, Chashma Sugar Mills, Mirin Sugar Mills, and Chashma Sugar Mills II are established' which buy all the sugarcane grown in these lands and the local farmers earn a good income from their produce.
Due to last year's floods – where dozens of settlements were wiped out, cracks in the canal caused severe damage to adjacent lands, and standing crops were destroyed – people suffered losses worth crores of rupees. The local population was forced to migrate. Due to the delay in the restoration work of this canal, the people here are now facing a shortage of commodities.
Local landowner Lal Khan Khetran says that due to the collapse of CRBC, the lands in this area have been barren and dry for a year and this chain extends from Chashma Barrage to Dera Ghazi Khan district of Punjab.
"The repair work of this canal has been ongoing since last year, and for about three kilometres from Head Juma Sharif to Jhok Abdullah, the various cracks and dislodged parts of the slates are being reconstructed with soil and concrete. But the delay has caused much loss to the people, against which small and big local farmers have taken out protest processions and sit-ins."
According to Lal Khan, this canal has been taken out of the Chashma Barrage of the Indus River near Kandian, and due to the delay in the work on it, there has been a severe shortage of food grains in the area and due to drought, twenty families have migrated to other areas and Dera Ismail Khan city.
Engineers and other staff working on the Chashma Right Bank Canal say that 95 per cent of the work on the canal has been completed. The construction of the three-km affected section is being completed in two phases. In the first phase, the outer part of the canal is filled with soil, while the inner part is reinforced with concrete. A concrete gate is being constructed at District No. 15, the main district of the area, so that water distribution can be used systematically. With its completion, seven lakh acres of cultivated area will be irrigated.
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When the chief engineer of the project, Gohar Zaman Bhabha, was spoken to about this, he said that some water was released in the Chashma Right Bank Canal on a trial basis, and the problem was identified at a place where a crack of about twenty to five feet has appeared.
Due to the flood, the ground has become soft at this place. Before starting the construction of the canal, experts had expressed fear that there might be cracks in the canal, but work is going on to remove these problems. Although the farmers' complaints are valid, careful requirements must be observed in the canal restoration to save them from further damage.
After completing the CRBC repair work, water will be released into the canal on October 31 as per regulations. After the construction, 60 per cent of the water will go to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, while 40 per cent will be allocated to Dera Ghazi Khan (Punjab).
This canal is a matter of life and death for the villages connected to CRBC, and the business and social affairs of the entire region are on the water of this canal. That is why millions of people in the entire region are worried about the delay in the repair of the canal and want the repair work to be completed soon. According to an estimate, about 12 lakh people are directly and indirectly employed by this canal.
Published on 23 Oct 2023