The Potohar region has over 100 sites for construction of small dams like Rawal and Khanpur Dams which should be built to eventually change fate of the farmers and prevent water shortage in the region said the agriculture experts. There is a dire need to construct several small dams in the Potohar region as the region requires more small dams to arrest the loss of 3.5 million acre feet of water per year and the large-scale soil erosion that comes with it, they said adding, apart from storing water for agriculture, the small-dams can also help mitigate floods, conserve soil and help control rural-urban migration ratios.
The average run-off is now estimated to be around 1.88 million acre-feet (MAF), with only around 12 per cent, or 0.22 MAF, conserved through small dams.
The dams can help in flood mitigation, soil conservation, curtailing rural migration to overburdened cities and reducing the time dependence on far-flung water sources.
A Diagnostic Analysis, conducted by a team of experts pointed out that rainfall pattern in the Potohar region demands water harvesting, storage and supplemental irrigation for crops during the months of April to June and October to December. The runoff available in the Potohar Plateau is 3.5 MAF, of which 0.10 MAF is utilized by small dams, mini dams and ponds.
The remaining 3.4 MAF is going to the Indus and Jhelum rivers. According to Rawalpindi District Punjab Soil Protection Department, the Punjab government was making efforts to construct mini-dams in several areas.
The Potohar Region needs thousands of more mini-dams and a large number of small dams as it is losing most of its annual 3.5 million acre feet of water due to shortage of infrastructure, resulting in large scale soil erosion, the agriculture experts said.
The Punjab Government under ‘Kissan Package’ constructed 101 mini-dams in Potohar Region during the last two years with 201 water ponds, 39 water storage tanks, 148 gabion spur and 28 Earthern bunds. Talking to APP, Director Soil Conservation Department Malik Ghulam Akbar said 80 percent subsidy is given to the farmers for the construction of mini-dams.
Due to the water reservoirs and soil erosion controlling structures nearly 32,190 acres land was made cultivable in the region, he informed. The construction of the mini-dams and water ponds has also developed positive environmental effects.—APP