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Dawn

Published Date: Jun 14, 2011

MIRANI DAM TERMED A BIG DISASTER

Senator Dr Abdul Malik on Monday termed Mirani Dam in Balochistan a “mega disaster”, saying all the government assessments and forecasts about its utility have proved drastically wrong.

He was speaking at a seminar on “Mirani Dam: Development or Disaster”, organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI).

The dam’s construction started in 2002 was completed in 2006.

Other speakers demanded an early compensation for the 2007 Mirani Dam flood-affected population. They also called for an evaluation report on the dam, adding it should consist of technical, financial, social and environmental third-party audit.

Dr Malik said he supported building of dams in Balochistan because rainwater goes waste every year which can be stored and used for vast cultivable areas in the province. But he added that local people had strong reservations about the dam’s design and claims of the Musharraf government that it would help irrigate 32,000 acres. “The dam is just irrigating 3,000 to 4,000 acres. Vast lands between Turbat and Pasni have become uncultivable due to this dam.”

The senator also talked about evidences of corruption and misdeeds of those who were overseeing the dam’s construction. He urged early recovery and compensation for the Mirani Dam flood-affected people of three union councils. ‘They are living under open skies without basic facilities for the last four years.”

Arshad Abbasi of SDPI said the dam was a classic example of design failure. “The upstream population was affected due to floods and backwater flow from the dam in 2007.”

He lamented that no commission or settlement plan has been announced by the government despite heavy damages to local population.

He demanded that a post-project evaluation report consisting of technical, financial, social and environmental third-party audit be initiated immediately. “Although dams in Balochistan were necessary due to rapidly depleting groundwater level, consideration of catchment and watershed management will be vital for developing dams. So far, this has been not taken into account.”

Sharif Shamazai of the Institute for Development Studies and Practices (IDSP), Quetta, said Mirani Dam was constructed to provide water to Gawadar and adjacent naval base and not to benefit local people or to irrigate 33,000 acres. He added that survey and feasibility was completed unprofessionally, ignoring the feedback and reservations of local communities on the dam’s’ design. “The locals had proposed 80 feet height and 1200 feet wide spillway, which was ignored and resulted in a mega disaster.”