Maria Toorpakai Wazir, 25, belongs to Waziristan, an ultra-conservative tribe in Pakistan, where girls are always expected to stay indoors.
Currently at the 49th position in the World Squash Championship, she aspires to break into the top ten sometime in this year.
Her innate resolute countenance can be seen by that fact that when she was only 4 and a half years old, she rebelled by not wearing the all-covering girl’s clothes and used to fight with the boys who dare to bully her little brother and achieving in the process lots of black eyes and stitches. Her father, soon realized her combative nature and decided to advocate for Women’s rights and encouraged her to join sports. He even went as far as to tell the society that she was actually a boy and called her Chengiz Khan.
But this façade soon was revealed when she joined a sports academy in Peshawar. Not surprisingly just in 3 years she became Pakistan’s top female Squash champion and the 3rd ranked Junior in the world.
Though, she had to face uncertainties regarding her career when she started receiving death threats from the Taliban militants who propagated that it is unIslamic for girls to play sports.
Maria says that since it was becoming more difficult for her to stay in Pakistan, she had to email various Squash clubs around the world seeking asylum.
Miraculously, it was Jonathan Power, a Squash legend who first replied to her mail and invited her to come and resettle in Canada and also offered to become her coach.
She now lives and train in Toronto but has refused the offers from both Canada and Kuwait to play for their national Squash teams. Maria cites that she wants to play for her native country and inspire other women to come forward and contribute more to Pakistan’s development.
With the fiery confidence, Maria told that she and all other women has enough determination and strength to achieve their goals. She hopes to become the World Squash champion in the next two years.
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.
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.
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.
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.