PESHAWAR - While Pakistan Tehrik-I-Insaf (PTI)-led government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa claims to make the province a role model for rest of the country, Saidu Khel, a remote village in the constituency of Chief Minister Pervez Khattak, is faced with a drought-like situation where the locals especially females cover long distance to fetch water on their heads.
According to the residents of the village, they were already faced with the issues of health, transportation, lack of high schools both for males and females, but the recent shortage of water and the inactivity of the government machinery to provide water to the villagers on emergency basis are forcing them to migrate to other parts of the province.
Gul Bibi, age 65, a resident of Saidu Khel village covers almost three kilometers distance to fetch water from Deri Woba. She carries a bucket on her head while her donkey carries two jars of water. "We have no problem to carry water on our heads but women are usually worried about their children left behind in their homes," she added.
Saidu Khel is a village located around 30 kilometers south of main Nowshera town. These days the village with almost 800 families is facing a drought-like situation. Saidu Khel falls in PK-13 Nowshera, the constituency of Chief Minister KP Pervez Khattak. He has been elected five times to the provincial assembly. However, he lost twice to late Tariq Hamid of Awami National Party (ANP). "The residents of Saidu Khel cast votes for Pervez Khattak irrespective of his political affiliation. We voted for him whether he was in PPP or he contested elections on PTI's ticket," said Ihsan Khan.
Water shortage is one of the longstanding issues the villagers of Saidu Khel are faced with but the recent crises are the worst of all times, according to the locals. They said that during the Ayub Khan regime, a water pipeline was laid and the people for the first time had the opportunity to have water at their doorstep. The pipeline was in working condition until recently but due to the lack of repair, the pipeline is no longer providing water to the villagers. A number of other projects were initiated in the area but these schemes were left unaccomplished. The villagers relied mostly on nearby springs but recently a number of fountains have dried up. At the moment, they are relying on a big water reservoir located in Deri Woba, three kilometers out of the village.
Some of the villagers who have no human resources to go and fetch water from Deri Woba area are compelled to buy water from donkey owners. Sheer Alam, a resident of Said Khel with five donkeys, is one of the leading water dealers in the village. "There are different jars of waters and the prices vary. I sell the small jar of water for Rs40 while the big jar is available for Rs100," he said.
Zahid Khattak, a villager, said, "We had fixed August 5 for the marriage of my younger brother but due to water shortage the ceremony has been postponed. We hope it rains well and the dried springs start producing water so will be able to hold the marriage." Shagufta, a resident of Saidu Khel, who is currently residing in Islamabad, said, "I love my village but since the last two years I am unable to visit. Previously we stayed in the village during summer vacations but this time avoided going there as there is a drought-like situation."
Suhail Khan is one of the diehard followers of Pervez Khattak in Saudi Khel. He is active during election campaigns for Khattak. It is his duty to arrange transportation for the villagers living outside the village for casting their votes for Pervez Khattak. He is supposed to be the in-charge of all development activities in the village. "Around 50 villagers are going to participate in Azaadi March. We are determined to make the long march successful," Suhail Khan told The Nation via phone. When he was asked about the major problem of water in the village, he said, "Two projects are underway to bring water to the village shortly."
The residents of Saidu Khel say that a number of times such projects were initiated but they were never completed. "Always such projects were initiated but we did not get the water supply," said Imran Gul.