Water scarcity reduces Sheikh Badin hilly resort attraction

Peshawar – Gone the time when denizens of Southern belt of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa hankered for shifting of their residence to Pezu for enjoying beautiful view and cool breeze during sweltering hot summer descending in the foothills from scenic Sheikh Badin tourist resort straddling between the border of Lakki Marwat and D I Khan.

Acute water scarcity diminished the attraction of Sheikh Badin which remained a place of attraction for decades for people who once wished for having homes in Pezu for round the clock vision of favourite hill of the region.

”Fast dwindling water table and reduction in precipitation has created serious water crisis in Pezu Union Council having a population of around 35,000 people,” informs Wazir Khan former Niab Nazim Dara Pezu.

During the years 2015-16 when I was serving as an elected representative in district union council, the water level for digging of pumps was found at 300 feet, Wazir recalls.

However, now the water level has been lowered to 700 feet deep, dropping by around 400 feet during a short span of five to six years, creating a lot of problems for locals who are facing difficulty in obtaining water for drinking, irrigation and for livestock.

Like other parts of southern districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Lakki is also highly dependent on rain for agriculture and ground water shortage has badly affected this source of earning of people, Wazir went on to say.

About 74 percent of agriculture land in Lakki Marwat is rain fed area, forcing every farmer to keep his eyes towards sky in search of clouds and downpour.

After losing livelihood of farming due to water shortage, a large number of people of Pezu are shifting to different places, he said.

He expressed the hope that construction of Pezu Barani dam may improve the situation and resolve to some extent the water shortage crisis.

Construction of Pezu Barani dam is in progress in the foothills of Sheikh Badin hill, but is much delayed as the project was launched in 2001 by then District Nazim, Hamayun Khan Saifullah, said former Nazim of Darey Pezu, Abdul Mutlib.

The future of Pezu residents is tied with construction of this barai dam which is now restarted in Feb 2021 after a long halt after release of Rs750 million fund by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, Abdul Mutlib told APP.

According to Pakistan Engineering Service, the length of the dam is around 1000 feet long with 300 feet breath.

The flash water after rain falling from Sheikh Badin and other hills will accumulate in this dam while a 16000 feet long canal will supply water to Pezu and areas within its vicinity to irrigate 887 acres of land.

Abdul Mutlib appreciated the vision of former Nazim, Hamayun Saifullah who during his tenure in office mostly concentrated on improving water source in Lakki Marwat.

Hamayun Saifullah worked on construction of dams, launching of Rod Kohi schemes for improving water level of the area and for resolving this serious issue faced by people.

Abdul Mutlib was also hopeful that resolution of water crisis in Pezu will also restore the last glory of Sheikh Badin hill which was also source of attraction during British era when the official residence of Deputy Commissioner was constructed on its top as a vintage point for keeping eye on the whole region.

Sheikh Badin hill was not as dry and deserted as it now looks like, remarked Shadi Khan, a local of Pezu.

In winter, the peaks of Sheikh Badin were covered with snow and in the months of May, June and July, it was a good picnic spot for heat stricken dwellers of Lakki and D I Khan, Shadi Khan recounts time of his childhood.

Global climate changes caused by environmental degradation and use of fossil fuels also affected green cover and landscape of Sheikh Badin.

No heed was given on plantation in the area and old trees were cut by local people and timber mafia, he went on to say.

Shadi Khan said he heard from his elders that Sheikh Badin hill was also habitat of markhor, deer and a large number of bird species because of its thick green cover which is now no more.

Irregular rain pattern and shortage badly impacted farming community of Lakki Marwat, says Malik Aslam Khan, a local farmer of Pezu.

Construction of Pezu Barani Dam will not only benefit local people of the area, but also farmers and livestock due to availability of water, Malik Aslam opined.

Due to on time availability of water the crops of wheat and chick pea which is mostly grown in area due to less water demand will flourish and farmers benefit.

Construction of small dams help in bringing back water table, but for maintaining of water level at a safe level, awareness is direly needed at door to door level, observed Dr Asif Khan, Water and Climate Change Expert.

Talking to APP, Dr Asif said rules be made for taking proper permission for carrying out water bore because ground water is state property and its use without permission is illegal.

People should be educated about proper use of water and informed about is wastage of this essential commodity at homes and business centre otherwise the shortage will keep on increasing reach to a point of serious concern, he warned.

In Lakki Marwat bands have been created for 60 ponds and 35 canals are different places but still more work is needed for overcoming water scarcity in the area, said Deputy Commissioner Lakki, Iqbal Hussain.

He also expressed the hope that with construction of Pezu Barani dam, the water scarcity problem in the problem will be resolved to a larger extend.

 

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