by Zulfiqar Ali Khan
HUNZA, July 19: Federal Minister for Finance and Privatisation, Syed Naveed Qamar, has said that community participation is the most integral pre- requisite of sustainable development. He was speaking to the villagers of Ahmedabad, during the opening ceremony of the Ahmedabad Hydro Power station, some 15 km North of Aliabd, Hunza. The CEO, AKF Al-Nashir Jamal, Kamal Hayat, CEO PPAF, Izhar Hunzai, GM AKRSP, Sher Alam, Chairman, Ghulam Ali, CEO KADO, Sucrat Aman Rana, AC Hunza and local community was also present at the occasion.
The 350 KVA micro-hydel power station was constructed by Aga Khan Rural Support Programme through village and women organisations with the financial support of Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF). The most important segment of the project is that the local community has contributed about 27% of the overall cost incurred on the project.
Ahmedabad is a small village in Centarl Hunza with a population of 1014 households. The presidentt of the village organisation, Farajuddin, has presented a detailed presentation about the village and women organisations and various projects completed during last 20 years. He said AKRSP had established the village organization (VO) and village women women (WO) on November 11, 1983. Both these organisations have about 412 members with a net saving of 4.9 million rupees.
The organisation has disbursed low interest loans to local community for agriculture, micro-hydel, education and health purposes.
The V/WOs have completed about 12 different projects regarding land development, suspension bridge, link roads, irrigation channels, schools, playing ground and other projects with the help of AKRSP and other AKDN agencies. The V/WOs have the plan to construct phase-2 of the micro- hydel project as well as establish small cottage industries with the help of the electricity generated through this project. The president on behalf of the community requested the minister for support in construction of carpeted road, water and sanitation project and computer and science lab for the school. A women member of the organisation in his speech, in the local Burushaski language, reaffirmed the commitment of the women of the village to join hands of the men in every filed of village development and .
The Minister has regarded Ahmedabad as a model village and ensured his support in the construction of road and other projects to the village. He said, “finance is available everywhere but the most important factors for development, that I found here, are the dedication, passion and unity among the local community”. He has said that the people from all four provinces should learn lessons from the experiences in this isolated mountain village.
Kamal Hayat, CEO, Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF) has said that he
has learnt a lot from the communities of Gilgit-Baltistan which he is replicating in other provinces of Pakistan. He has announced to arrange finances for the third phase of the micro-hydel project. He has also ensured his support for construction of science and computer labs at the local school.
The Minister also visited the Gems Cutting and Polishing Center, Karimabad, established by Karakoram Area Development Organisation (KADO) with the support of Rupani Foundation. The minister has appreciated the efforts of KADO for imparting skills to women and providing income generating activities in the region.
It is pertinent here to mention that AKRSP has started rural development initiatives in Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral District of the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan in 1982. This area is surrounded by high mountain ranges, such as Karakoram, Hindu Kush, Himalayas and the Pamirs. It is the most inaccessible, least developed area of Pakistan because of political deprivity and its geography and topography.
The steep downstream flow of various torrents has great potential potential for construction of micro hydro-power generation plants in the area. Experts have calculated the capacity of generating 50 000 Mega Watts of hydro- power electricity in the region. However, so far, only 50 MW of this potentail has been exploited.
Photographs by Zulfiqar and Asghar Khan