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Swat village gets electricity 65 years after Independence

Villagers erupted in joy when the micro-hydel project built in the scenic Bayun valley with help from non-governmental organisations started supplying electricity to their village during a recent night-time ceremony.

The villagers had lined up on both sides of the katcha track leading to the site to accord a warm welcome to the members of board of directors of the Sarhad Rural Support Programme (SRSP) who were there to inaugurate the scheme.

The gathering started raising slogans when Shoaib Sultan Khan, the brain behind the success of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and founding member of the SRSP, switched on the light to illuminate the lush green valley. “SRSP Zindabad!” was the most frequent slogan heard that night in Bayun, which overlooks the Kalam town and the meandering Swat River.

Zahid Khan, the SRSP regional programme manager, said the 100-kilowatt Bayun Micro Hydropower Project costing Rs10.2 million was completed by the SRSP with financial help of donors including UNCHR-Raha, Ausaid and Open Society Foundation, and the involvement of the local community.

He said the initial cost of the project was Rs7.6 million of which the SRSP provided Rs6.2 million and the rest was contributed by the local community in the shape of labour and locally available building material. Later, with the change in the design and site, the community’s contribution increased to Rs4 million.

The scheme, completed in nine months, started providing electricity to the over 4,000 population of Bayun comprising 341 houses on August 29. Everyone on the occasion was happy as they considered it a remarkable event of their life. The project encouraged them to highlight their other basic problems.

Habib Gul, a 45-year-old villager, told this correspondent: “IThis is the most joyful occasion of my life. It was a dream of everyone here to have electricity and today our dreams have come true.”

Naeemullah, another Bayun villager, said electricity was no doubt the biggest need of the people but they faced other serious issues that needed to be resolved. He said they don’t have health facility in the area. “We don’t have drinking water and are compelled to fetch water from a spring, which is far away from the village. The only middle school in the village lacks teachers and infrastructure,” he added.

Mohammad Saeed, a student of grade 7 from the village, said he was enrolled in a school in Peshawar by his uncle. “I am more concerned about the village school. Our villagers are uneducated due to lack of educational facility. The school should be provided teachers,” he added.

A wooden bridge to Aryani village across the river Swat was also inaugurated during the visit to the valley. The bridge linked population of almost 3,000 with the main Bahrain-Kalam road.

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