Sunday February 24, 2019

100-year-old British-era Bridge going strong in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province

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In Pakistan. Wikimedia

Islamabad, May 28, 2017: A suspension bridge built by the British rulers on Laspur river connecting two villages in Chitral district of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province will complete 100 years in June this year as recorded on the plaque in its pillar.

The British forces had crossed the Shandur Top in Chitral from Gilgit side to annex it in 1895 and began building communication infrastructure in the area for the first time in the form of mule tracks and suspension bridges that facilitated them to mobilise the mountain infantry, Dawn online reported.

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Mohammad Ashraf Khan, an elder from Laspur valley in his early 90s, said the British Army transported cannons and other gadgets of light infantry through this route from Gilgit to Chitral to establish their sway here and extend it in the south where warlord Umara Khan of Jandool challenged them.

Mohammad Ashraf said the people of Chitral were introduced for the first time to road infrastructures and telecommunication facilities in the form of telephone and telegraph which the British brought here in 1904 and established telegraph and telephone office in Mastuj near Laspur.

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He said that besides the one at Shahdas village, Harchin village had another suspension bridge which was completed in 1919. In the recent times, both the British era bridges are bypassed as the Shandur road was realigned in 1980s.

The two bridges connected the Lusht village of over 400 households with the rest of the valley and gave an ample testimony to the high standard of construction the British engineers maintained.

Quoting his elders in the valley, Ashraf Khan said the British transported steel and cement from Nowshera and Deodar wood from Chitral forests.

According to the Dawn, the construction work was carried out by the Bengal Sappers and Miners and locals were engaged for labour work.

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Altaf Hussain Shah, an engineer working with an NGO, said both the bridges were in a comfortable state without undergoing any major repair, and predicted they would remain intact for many more decades to come.

Extolling the British engineers, Shah said they had accomplished an excellent job in all the stages of the construction from the site selection to use of quality material and fixing of bridge parts, including suspension cables, which still withstood the load.

Shah said that initially the two bridges were built for mules and pedestrians, but they readily came to be used for motor vehicles in 1976 when the locals constructed the road from Mastuj town to Laspur as the strength and width of the two bridges supported the passage of vehicles.

Chitral was connected with Ghizar district of Gilgit Baltistan in early 1980s via Shandur Pass and all this was possible due to the two bridges built by the British who invaded Chitral using the route.

Mir Taoos Khan, a political worker of Laspur Valley, said people would have been waiting for more than five decades to see a motor vehicle in their valley if the British ruler had not constructed the bridges.

He said the British had constructed the mule track in such a way that it easily accommodated the vehicular traffic.

Both the bridges are now maintained by the communication and works department whose officers intend to celebrate the first 100 years of Shahdas bridge in June.

The British had also opened a Post Office in Mastuj village in 1896 just one year after they had arrived here and it was the first ever facility of its kind in the district.

According to Shah, the government should make efforts for inclusion of the bridges in the world heritage sites and take steps for their conservation. (IANS)

Next Story

Three Projects Help India to Stop its Share of Water to Pakistan after Pulwama

The waters of the western rivers - the Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab - averaging around 135 MAF, were allocated to Pakistan.

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Picture Courtesy:-www.economylead.com

The government has envisaged three projects to give intent to its decision to stop its share of water from three eastern rivers of the Indus system – the Beas, Ravi and Sutlej – from going to Pakistan.

The decision was affirmed by Water Resource Minister Nitin Gadkari on Thursday in the wake of Pulwama terror attack though the Union cabinet had approved implementation of one of the key projects – Shahpurkandi dam – in December last year.

The waters of the western rivers – the Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab – averaging around 135 MAF, were allocated to Pakistan except for “specified domestic, non-consumptive and agricultural use permitted to India”, according to a treaty.

India has also been given the right to generate hydroelectricity through run-of-the-river (RoR) projects on the western rivers which, subject to specific criteria for design and operation, is unrestricted.

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However, about 2 MAF of water annually from Ravi is reported to be still flowing unutilised to Pakistan. VOA

To utilise the waters of the Eastern rivers, India has constructed the Bhakra Dam on Satluj, Pong and Pandoh Dam on Beas and Thein (Ranjitsagar) on Ravi. These storage works, together with other works like Beas-Sutlej Link, Madhopur-Beas Link and Indira Gandhi Nahar Project have helped India utilise nearly the entire share (95 per cent) of the eastern river waters.

However, about 2 MAF of water annually from Ravi is reported to be still flowing unutilised to Pakistan. The other two projects are Ujh multipurpose project and the second Ravi Beas link below Ujh.

Here’s the reality check of the three projects:

Shahpurkandi Project: It aims to utilise the waters coming from powerhouse of Thein dam in order to irrigate 37,000 hectares of land in Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab by generating 206 MW of power.

The project was scheduled to be completed by September 2016. However, following a dispute between the two states, work was suspended in August 2014 but they reached an agreement last September and the construction work has now resumed with the Centre monitoring its progress. The central government had in December last year announced assistance of Rs 485 crore for the project and it would be completed by June 2022.

 

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The decision was affirmed by Water Resource Minister Nitin Gadkari on Thursday in the wake of Pulwama terror attack. VOA

The project will create irrigation potential of 5,000 hectare in Punjab and 32,173 hectare in Jammu and Kashmir.

Officials said that some water of the Ravi is going waste through the Madhopur Headworks downstream to Pakistan and it is required in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir.

The total balance cost of pending work in ShahpurKandi Dam project is estimated Rs 1,973.53 crore (irrigation component: Rs 564.63 crore, power component Rs1408.90 crore).

The Shahpurkandi Project was initially approved by the Planning Commission in November, 2001. Revised costs were approved, but there was delay in its execution both because of lack of funds with Punjab and inter-state issues with Jammu and Kashmir.

An agreement was finally reached between the two states under the aegis of Water Resources Ministry in September last year.

Ujh multipurpose project: Construction of the Ujh multipurpose project will create a storage of about 781 million cubic metres of water on Ujh, a tributary of Ravi, for irrigation and power generation and provide a total irrigation benefits of 31,380 hectares in Kathua, Hiranagar and Samba districts of Jammu and Kashmir.

The total estimated cost of the project is Rs 5,850 crore and the Central assistance of Rs 4,892.47 crore on works portion of irrigation component as well as the special grant is under consideration. The project is yet to be implemented and it will take about six years for completion.

Second Ravi Beas link below Ujh: The project has been planned to tap excess water flowing down to Pakistan through Ravi by constructing a barrage across it for diverting water through a tunnel link to the Beas basin.

The project is expected to utilise about 0.58 MAF of surplus waters below Ujh dam by diverting the same to the Beas basin.

 

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Officials said that some water of the Ravi is going waste through the Madhopur Headworks downstream to Pakistan and it is required in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir. Wikimedia

The water distribution treaty between India and Pakistan was brokered by the World Bank in 1960 to use the water available in the Indus system of rivers originating in India.

 

ALSO READ: IOC Cancels Places for 2020 Tokyo Games from India after it Refused Visas to Pakistan

The Indus system comprises Indus, Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas and Sutlej rivers. The basin is mainly shared by India and Pakistan with a small share for China and Afghanistan.

Under the treaty signed between India and Pakistan in 1960, all the waters of the three eastern rivers, averaging around 33 million acre feet (MAF), were allocated to India for exclusive use.  (IANS)