Prof. Rahmat Karim Baig
It is a hot topic of today that climate change is affecting every walk of our life. Due to drought or untimely rains, great disasters occur all over the globe and Pakistan is one of the most affected countries.
On the one hand, it is a backward, poor and overpopulated country of Asia – It is not only our country but also most of the countries of South Asia have the same position. None of them is self-sufficient. On the other hand, it has corruption at high level. Mismanagement has corroded every fabric of life, has got inefficient leadership into the bargain. Pakistan has been suffering from the bad impacts of climate change and the leaders are quarreling among themselves to snatch power.
We are getting less and less rains and the smaller sources of water i.e. springs have dried up and no water is available for irrigation in the mountainous region like Malakand Division, Hazara and Gilgit-Baltistan. Moreover, glaciers are also over-melting in summers due to global warming. Because of the disappearance of small springs in the hilly areas, no agriculture or horticulture is possible any more.
Of course, we have river system from the glaciers in the north but the government has not been allocating enough funds for digging water channels nor pipes of bigger diameter are considered to provide water to barren lands. We have enough barren and waste lands to be used for modern type of farming to get higher land produce and fruits but supply of water to the said waste lands depends on the keen interest of the provincial government.
It is now easier to put our irrigation system on Solar system and this idea has been introduced in many villages of Chitral and it works. So far, this Solar system has been an initiative of the communities concerned but it has been taken up by the provincial government as well such as in schools, BHUs and mosques; quite a good number has been solarized so the waste lands along the rivers can also be considered under this idea for irrigation. Solar system should be used at wider scale and more funds be allocated to supply water to waste lands all over the province.
Because of shortage of water for irrigation the inhabitants of the hilly areas have began to migrate to cities and thus slums have been increasing compared to housing schemes, around the cities. This migration needs to be stopped to lessen the burden on the cities, to lessen crimes and encourage people to live in their ancestral homes because due to their migration, their already cultivated plots have become waste lands once again and thus desertification has started at the high altitude settlements.
The mistake was made many years ago that the MPAs and MNAs failed to provide basic facilities to the rural population. They got votes but then disappeared for good. No sufficient electricity, no gas for cooking, no water supply schemes, no better educational facilities, no health facilities, no hearing of the grievances of the public living in distant parts of Chitral, no roads fit for two jeeps at a time, etc. When there are no facilities for the people they will think on two possible alternatives:
- That they should come to the streets and hold long marches and anti govt. processions but this needs a popular political leadership of good character which was nowhere to be seen. We can never unite as a nation because we have conflicting interests and our objectives clash though not very openly but grow underground. We have regional interests and that is very dangerous for our future.
- The next was to adopt the path of migration silently, from a settlement without facilities and go to cities for education of their children or health facilities. The second was adopted and the trend got momentum and the total population of Chitral decreased in thousands each year and within two to three decades half of the total population left Chitral. The savings of the working class and small businesses went to buy plots in the cities instead of being utilized in the villages where the migration lovers had seen the light of the day.