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Solar-powered irrigation project launched in Chitral

In a bid to promote sustainable development, the Sarhad Rural Support Programme (SRSP) has launched a project near Drosh to lift river water to an altitude of 360 feet through solar-powered pumps to irrigate arid lands.

Being built under the Programme of Economic Empowerment and Community Empowerment (PEACE) initiative, the project would pave the way for irrigating more unused barren land in hilly areas in the largest district of the province.

Speaking at the inaugural ceremony of the scheme in Khairabad village, SRSP Chief Executive Masoodul Mulk said it was an innovative idea to irrigate thousands of acres of arid land through solar-powered water pumps.

Gravity flow irrigation system is not possible in Chitral due to its specific topography. The project will be replicated in the length and breadth of Chitral where scarcity of irrigation water is the main hurdle to agriculture development,” he said.

Masoodul Mulk asked the locals to cooperate in making the scheme a success as it would change the fate of the poor farmers with small pieces of land.He said the scheme would be completed in four months at a cost of Rs3.881 million. “I will plant a sapling in the land in March,” he said pointing towards the wasteland of Khairabad.The SRSP chief executive urged the locals to strictly adhere to the rules of community participation and do away with parochial politics.

Commandant of the Chitral Scouts Col Naeem Iqbal, SRSP board member Ehsanullah Khan, PEACE Project Manager Zahid Khan and community representative Sultanur Rahman and others also spoke on the occasion.

District Manager SRSP Tariq Ahmed said the far-flung villages in the district were being provided electricity by micro hydropower stations and it would help reduce the felling of precious trees and raise the living standard of the local people.

“As the Chitral river cannot be channelised to irrigate the vast arid tracts of land in Chitral, this is the only viable way to bring the more land under cultivation,” said an agriculture expert Assadullah. A jeep-able bridge to the Sweer valley was also inaugurated. The elders of the area lauded the efforts of the SRSP for facilitating thousands of people of the two valleys.

The SRSP team also launched work on the irrigation channel in Ayun which was destroyed by the floods. Meanwhile, two micro-hydel projects were inaugurated in remote Khot village of upper Chitral.

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