.. by Zahiruddin
CHITRAL: With the dry spell prevailing since Dec last year, the threat of drought is looming large over Chitral.
The valley didn?t receive snowfall during the last winter season, while it has recorded no rainfall during the current spring season.
The local residents have complained about the fading away of springs, diminished wheat and barley crops in highland, and disappearance of vegetation from the meadows and hill foots, saying their drought fears are based on these bad circumstances.
Local MPA warns mass exodus imminent over acute water shortage
They told Dawn that the vegetation was normally seen in the valley during March and April
The residents said wheat crops had withered in Mulkow, Shotkhar, Zezdi Madak, Lone, Dune Oveer, Lawi and other areas due to the acute shortage of irrigation water.
Danishmand Khan, a farmer in Mulkhow area, said the local growers had no option but to harvest the crop raw to feed animals as the area was dependent on rainfall in the spring season.
He said the last winter season had scanty snowfall causing the water level in the local streams to go down alarmingly, while the natural springs had also dried up.
The farmer said the shortage of water had also ruined floral leaves of orchard trees.
He said the upper parts of Chitral were known for vast production of apple, pear, peach, apricot and cherry but it was feared that there would be almost no fruit production in the region this year.
Reshun village nazim Shahzada Munir said unlike the past, vegetable growing activity had yet to gain momentum due to the acute water shortage.
He said many farmers grew vegetables for livelihood but the scanty rainfall was likely to hit them badly.
The nazim warned that things would be more upsetting for growers by the end of the current month when they?re likely to struggle to find water for irrigating crops, orchards, and the grass, fodder for their animals.
He said water level in streams had dropped alarmingly due to the absence of snowfall and that it could finish completely by July to the misery of villagers.
The people of Golen area feared that stream water depletion would adversely affect the production of the 108MW hydropower station, whose first unit began operation last Jan.
Maulana Rahmatullah Akhunzada of Mori Lusht area said the current water flow in the stream was too little for the power station?s three turbines to function ?efficiently?.
Upper Chitral MPA Syed Sardar Hussain Shah warned that the mass migration was imminent at the start of the summer season over the shortage of drinking and irrigation water.
He said the people had begun selling livestock at throwaway prices in light of looming drought as keeping them was no more possible due to the dry spell.
Mr Shah said he would highlight the matter in the assembly to seek the government?s intervention for the supply of water to villages from the river through solar-powered pumps.
He said he would also alert the Provincial Disaster Management Authority to be drought risk for corrective measures.
Published in Dawn, April 12th, 2018