The desert spreading over thousands of acres of land is located between Istach and Dizg villages in the lower Yarkhun valley. Though a perennial stream flows in the middle of the desert its water has never grown even a moss on the otherwise fertile land, rather it destroys all plants, crops, etc., that come on its way. In this water-scarcity area, the water of the stream has only helped run primitive mills of the village which have now also become redundant.
The water of the stream is murky and its taste awful. Various laboratory tests have confirmed the presence of sulphuric acid in it. People never use the water for drinking and irrigation purposes despite perpetual water shortage in the area. Even travellers on hot summer days avoid drinking the water of the stream.
The villagers tell various folklore stories about the uselessness of the water, some saying the stream was condemned for ever by a saint after one of his colleagues drowned in the turbid water.
It was for the first time that over 100,000 saplings were planted in the desert under the Billion Tree Tsunami Afforestation Project of the KP government early this year.
The people of Dizg planted about 50,000 saplings in their side of the desert while an equal number of saplings were planted in the Istach side.
Though the people of Dizg face an acute shortage of water, they nevertheless constructed a canal from their village stream on a self-help basis to water the newly-planted saplings till the KP government arranged pumps and motors to draw water from the river for the plants. A similar contribution was made by the people of Istach.
Talking to ChitralToday, a resident of Dizg, under whose supervision the saplings were planted and are being managed, said the success rate of the plantation in the desert was almost 100 per cent. He said three people had been hired for the maintenance of the saplings in the Dizg side and were being paid by the provincial government.
He said they needed more pumps and the construction of tanks to ensure a regular supply of water to the saplings.
The people of the two villages said the provincial government should continue its cooperation and supervision in order to ensure that Chiral’s largest tree plantation project becomes a success on a permanent basis.