GHALANAI -- Residents of Mohmand District are optimistic about the construction of a new dam that is expected to bring development to the area.
Prime Minister Imran Khan on May 2 broke ground on the long-awaited Mohmand Dam Hydropower Project.
After being delayed for more than five decades, the project is now scheduled to be complete by July 2024. The dam will store about 1.2 million acre-feet (MAF) of water, generate 800MW of low-cost hydro-electricity and help mitigate floods in Peshawar, Charsadda and Nowshera.
The project will also irrigate about 16,700 acres of new land and provide 300 million gallons of drinking water per day to Peshawar.
The Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA), which is tasked with building the dam, has already completed several parts of the project.
That includes setting up a weather station in the project area, the installation of instruments along the Swat River to measure the discharge of water and initial geo-technical boring.
Meanwhile, construction work on permanent access roads on both banks of the river is in full swing. The 15.5km-long road starting from Munda Headworks will provide access for the construction of dam, spillway and irrigation tunnels.
WAPDA Chairman Lt. Gen. (ret.) Muzammil Hussain and other officials, including National Assembly (NA) member Sajid Khan, visited the work site on May 31.
"The Mohmand Dam Project will provide more than 6,000 jobs," said Hussain.
"Besides compensation... for land and assets, a sum of Rs. 4.61 billion ($28 million) will be spent for the development of the project area as confidence building measures, with special focus on education, health, water supply, roads, tree planting and fish hatcheries," he said.
In addition to developing remote areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the Mohmand Dam Hydropower Project will go a long way in stabilising the national economy as it will help meet the increasing demand for water and electricity in the country, he said.
'A dream come true'
"Everyone will continue providing his [or her] all-out support until the completion of the project, and the locals will benefit from the project the most," said Khan the NA member, who represents Mohmand District.
He described the dam as a "dream come true" and added that locals will see social and economic development, more job opportunities and the alleviation of poverty as a result of the project.
The dam is "a great sign of peace" for Mohmand, which has suffered from terrorism and is lagging in development, said Fouzi Khan Mohmand, a tribal journalist from Mohmand.
Local residents "are optimistic and jubilant as they see new jobs as a ray of hope for the uplifting of the district", he said.
Had the dam not been delayed for more than five decades, the district would not have seen militancy, bloodshed and the killing of innocent civilians, said Aftab Mohmand, another tribal journalist based in Mohmand.
"The dam is a real sign of peace and development... it will go a long way in the socio-economic uplifting of the region, which has suffered a lot because of... terror and militancy," he said.
The project "will put the district in the limelight as communication networks will link the region to the outside world, bring in investment and boost local trade... the dam will serve as an economic catalyst for the business and trade of the region as well," said Shasawar Mohmand, a development specialist from Mohmand.
The dam will bring jobs to the local youth and prevent them from being lured into militancy, he added.