Nisha Bibi, daughter of Zeer Wali, who resides in Tatur village, Tank district, drowned in August last year. Zeer Wali mentions that although she was initially rescued alive from the water, they had to stop at the location of the Tatur Bridge due to flooding. The delay in reaching the hospital in time resulted in her passing away at that location.+
A year later, in the same month of August, Nasibullah from Tatur had to visit the city hospital for his wife's childbirth.
He says that the route was blocked upon reaching Tatur Bridge at night due to rapid water flow. "We had to take a long and challenging alternate route. Upon reaching the hospital, the doctors informed us that the baby had passed away, and an immediate operation was needed to save the mother's life."
"If the bridge had been accessible, and we had reached the hospital on time, perhaps the child could have been saved."
Lowland areas in the district of Tank experience recurring flood situations during the monsoon rains almost every year.
Rainwater drainage channels in South Waziristan end in Tank, which at the place of Zaam is distributed into six major canals named Pir Kach, Lawara, Saidgi, Chhoa, Tkwada and Kiryani. Floods in these rivers and streams affect livelihoods, agriculture and the overall transportation systems.
The floods in 2010 wreaked havoc across the entire district, causing extensive damage to the Tatur Bridge and rendering it non-functional. This bridge served as the sole link connecting New Tatur, Tatur, Kari Lati, Omar Khan, Kot Glan, Bazai, and other areas to Tank City. The bridge's non-functionality, exacerbated by heavy rainfall, disrupts the ground connection between these villages and the city.
Thirty-five-year-old Malik Abbas Ali Tatur from Tatur states that due to the closure of the bridge, people in the area are compelled to choose a 40-kilometre-long alternate route via Chisankech for their commercial transactions, despite the city being just eight kilometres away.
"Thus, in this inflation, food and beverage items double in price."
During monsoon season, students going to and coming back from school have to wait for hours near the bridge.
Malik Hussain Khan from Kot Gulan village explains that floodwater inundates most of his agricultural land every year, rendering cultivation impossible for a certain period. He states, "Last year, the standing wheat crops of many farmers, including mine, were ruined due to floodwater."
The village Chairman and social figure, Fazal Kareem Tatur, mentions that even moderate rainfall creates havoc due to malfunctioning drainage systems, leading to flooding and destruction.
"Much of the rainfall in South Waziristan accumulates in the Peerkach water channel. This not only impacts the population residing in the vicinity of the channel and makes agricultural land unsuitable for cultivation. The other five channels often experience insufficient water availability, leading to frequent obstacles for farmers near the Kiryani and Lawada river hills in cultivating their lands."
He suggests that with proper water distribution management at the Zama location and ensuring equal water flow in all major channels, it is possible to safeguard nearly the entire population from floods. In addition to agricultural benefits, this could also lead to various other advantages.
"Much like the construction of the Gomal Zam Dam secured the Eastern part of the tank from flooding, a similar impact can be achieved in the Western portion by constructing the Tank Zam Dam. Therefore, timely construction of the Tank Zam Dam is crucial. This will enable the utilisation of rainwater for agriculture in the area and protect from floods."
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The authorities of the Irrigation Department acknowledge that the construction of a dam can store rainwater from Waziristan and distribute it to land cultivators through a planned scheme. This initiative aims to prevent flooding and reduce water wastage.
Officials from the Development Department state that the construction of the Tatur Bridge is part of the annual development program, and its proposal is currently under review by the consulting department for approval. Upon approval, tenders will be advertised in newspapers. According to them, the construction of this bridge is incorporated into the flood relief scheme. Once either of these projects obtains approval, construction work will commence.
Deputy Commissioner Muhammad Shoaib says that governmental processes take time; nevertheless, he is in contact with the Development Department to accelerate the completion of the phases.
Published on 20 Nov 2023