Shatung Nallah: The Unsung Hero!

By Muzammil Ahmed

Skardu is considered a popular tourist destination in Gilgit Baltistan, attracting both national and international visitors who come here to explore nature’s wonders. It offers a comfortable environment where people can get closer to nature and enjoy the breathtaking sights, such as snow-covered mountains and the changing colors of the seasons. However, there is a dark side to this beauty that is diminishing Skardu’s charm In this article, we will shed light on a pressing concern: the water shortage in Skardu. Together, we will delve into the causes and consequences of this issue, while also exploring potential solutions. Furthermore, we will emphasize the pivotal role that individuals can play in addressing this urgent matter.

 Satpara Dam is the only source of water supply for the people of Skardu. It was constructed and upgraded by Gul Khatoon, a Mughal princess. Her visionary mindset and consistent work helped transform the high-level desert of Skardu into a lush green paradise. One of her notable achievements was the planning and construction of a canal system that not only provided essential water for domestic use but also fulfilled irrigation needs. However, over time, this crucial area was neglected, until in 2001, WAPDA (Water and Power Development Authority) took on the Satpara Dam project to address the water supply issue in the region.The project comprised four key components: the construction of powerhouses for energy generation, the establishment of proper irrigation channels, upgrading the dam, and diverting the Shatung Nullah towards the dam. Descon Engineering was awarded the contract for the dam and powerhouse construction, CCPG for the irrigation channel development, and D-Baloch for the diversion of the Shatung Nullah.

However, there is an unverified claim that the supervisors of the Shatung Nullah project have stated that it could be difficult to divert the nullah towards the dam due to irregular seasons and financial difficulties. Moreover, it might harm the habitat of Deosai as well. As a result, the government closed the project without diverting the Shatung Nullah, leaving the local people with a dam that does not adequately meet their needs. This situation has worsened with minor weather fluctuations caused by climate change. Despite numerous applications and requests, the concerns of the locals have been ignored, leading to a massive public outcry as seen in the recent protest where thousands of people participated. However, a resourceful local cleric named Agha Baqir has emerged as an unsung hero. He is tirelessly working day and night to address this problem. With the collaboration and support of many volunteers from different areas of Skardu, they are taking it upon themselves to divert the Shatung Nullah.

This endeavor once again showcases the strength and unity of the people, who have demonstrated their ability to independently solve major problems without full government support. It is now crucial to prioritize the resolution of Skardu’s problems. The government should make efforts and formulate effective policies to reduce inefficiencies within organizations like WAPDA. Local political leaders must genuinely engage and show interest in solving these major problems to improve Skardu’s infrastructure and environment. This will ensure that Skardu’s beauty remains sustainable for future generations.

The contributor is a student at Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad.

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