Kachhi Canal Project is virtually shelved for all practical purposes and the Government is yet to confirm it officially that it has no plan to built the remaining two phases and take canal water to Ghandawa and its surroundings to irrigate additional 640,000 acres of highly fertile land.
The first phase is complete irrigating some 72,000 acres of land in Bugti Mainland. The people of Balochistan should consider the Kachhi Canal buried in the present circumstances as the Government will spare no fund to implement and complete the project.
It is not possible that the Federal Government will spare at least Rs 100 billion more for Balochistan making it food surplus province. It is also clear that all other mega projects may not receive necessary funds under the present security climate in the region. Those projects include the Gwadar Port, Gwadar City and Port water supply, Gwadar Airport and score of small and big Federal Projects. The Gwadar Water problem is a classic case.
Massive corruption in NESPAK destroyed the Akra Kaur Dam water supply scheme. The Government made no efforts to rehabilitate the water supply scheme or develop alternate water resources by building bigger dams on all seasonal rivers on the pattern of Iranian Balochistan.
There are more than 400 small and big seasonal rivers flowing to the Indian Ocean in Mekran alone and the Government had built only one dam on Dasht River at Mirani. That is too keeping the Mirani Dam Project in the cold storage of the Planning Commission for more than 14 long years.
A major dam in the downstream on Dasht River can easily meet the future needs of water for Gwadar. At present, a tanker of fresh water is being sold at Rs 28,000 till recently as water shortage had become more acute.
It will be difficult for the Government at the moment to meet the commercial and industrial needs of water in Gwadar Port project area. Thus the Gwadar Port will remain dormant years to come.
From day one, Gwadar port and its entire settlement was strategically important for its proximity to the Straits of Hormuz and the Gulf waterway. Still it was denied drinking water for the past 70 long years and even the permanent Pakistani establishment had ignored it. It remained the lowest priority of the Pakistani Establishment.
Kachhi Canal is virtual economic life line of Balochistan and its people. It is supposed to irrigate 712,000 acres of land in its command area. The canal was stopped at Bugti Mainland where it will irrigate 72,000 acres of land. The first phase cost Rs 80 billion while the original cost of the entire project was around Rs 50 billion.
The cost escalation was due to delay and massive corruption in the project and the Government is yet to take action against the corrupt but all powerful officials, engineers and contractors. Kachhi Canal is a virtual game changer in economic term providing hundreds of thousands of jobs besides creating employment opportunities in a big way.
Shelving the Kachhi Canal Projects, mainly its second and third phase, means a deliberate attempt to keep Balochistan and its people backward and poor by designs. The two phases may require around Rs 120 billion or more to complete it.
It returns will be much greater. If the Project was implemented or completed in initial three years period, then the people of Balochistan would have enjoyed bumper crops for the past 15 years and changed the face of backward Balochistan.
It is pity that the Provincial Government had failed to register its protest over the issue and the Balochistan Assembly was more interested in raising hue and cry on not renewal of licenses for dynamites to few dealers and shop keepers.
The highly responsible media will continue to hammer the issue compelling the Government to complete the Kachhi Canal Project at the earliest. Or the Provincial Government should seek international help in building the two phases of Kachhi Canal at the earliest.