Recently a statement, rather a pledge, had come from the Chief Minister KPK to launch a housing scheme at Kagh Lasht in upper Chitral.
This idea, whoever has floated it, is debatable with thousands of stakeholders residing around the said arid plateau, utilized as a spring grazing ground for herds of goats and sheep by all people of the three Tehsils plus collection of the dwarf bushes, uprooted, stacked and carried on back or by jeeps to various hamlets of the region, burned for cooking food in the absence of firewood supply.
This region has no firewood supply source except from Chitral city market which is very costly and beyond the purchasing power of the consumers.
Power supply is not available, CNG is too expensive, coal is not found in the whole of Malakand division so the local people who number around two hundred thousand have to depend on the meager amount of the bushes found in the Kagh Lasht plateau for a couple of months. It is situated in the centre of all the three tehsils and therefore, accessible to all.
At this stage of our survival of the fittest two water supply schemes are in the pipeline; the one is Shushgal Zhondoli hydropower project of 144mw from Terich River through a tunnel and surplus water of the hydro channel is under consideration to be given to the dry Mulkho and Kagh Lasht lands for irrigation. Another channel scheme is in the feasibility stage under Irrigation Division from the same river and if found feasible will provide more than enough irrigation water to the whole of Mulkho region, to Kagh Lasht as well as a hydro power project of smaller capacity than the one mentioned above.
So in the light of the above water supply schemes in pipeline there is no rationale to turn the pristine and free of pollution plain of Kagh Lasht into a dirty Housing scheme. It means the Chief Minister knows very little about the importance of environmental issues faced by the province so he is in a hurry to reward his Housing scheme friends.
There is no need of a housing scheme in upper Chitral or Lower Chitral as almost all the inhabitants of this ex princely State have private lands and no Chitrali is landless but possesses tracts of land for a few rooms.
We don’t want an ugly, dirty, polluted colony of Houses in this clean and pure plateau. The supply of water schemes must be utilized under proper planning to phase wise forestation which will bring better results for the people, their livestock, environment and health.
Please don’t destroy our pure soil by turning it into septic tank marshes and pollute the land. For God’s sake refrain from this dirty plan and build the long awaited Cadet College in the midst of the proposed a forestation scheme. Forestation of the 10 thousand acre plateau will help local economy, livestock raising, climatic improvement and wildlife habitat for our future generations.
Prof. R.K. Baig
(Published in Frontier Post).