Mirani Dam; When Prosperity tunned into adversity

By: Barkat Shah Kakar

Mirani Dam has been one of the materialized mega project in Pakistan generally and in Balochistan especially which has carved disastrous impacts on the lives and livelihood of the people living around it. The feasibility of the dame was carried in 1956 with a maximum of hight of 80 ft which was then made 127 ft. Situated 43 Km in the west of the Turbat city, this dam incurred 5.8 billion rupees and was supposed to cultivate 33000 acres of the barren land of Dasht. It was also assumed that the dam will diversify the livelihood opportunities through fishing, farming and will also figure out 1100 employments to the local people of district Kech.

The National Engineering Service-Pak (NES-PAK) the renown national institution carried the survey of the dam and it ensured that there will be no displacements for the water back flow of the dam. The dam construction was formally started in 2001 and was completed in 2006, but the very immediate adversity came into play when the back flow of the dam completely covered shelters, farms, fodders, forest, trees and also displaced the 40000 inhabitants of the 3-union councils of the Tehsil Turbat. The Merani Dam is being build over the Kech river 4604 square miles and Nahang River 3360 sq miles. On June 26th ,2007 it was the mid night when the back flowed water warned the local population to evacuate their residences within a short interval of time.

The adversities caused by such ill planned and criminally sugar coated mega projects were uncovered by a young researcher, Mr. Shareef Shabezai through his practice assignment as learner of the IDSP( Institute for Development Studies and Practices) Development Studies certificate course. In the initial stage the researcher has collected the case studies of the displaced families and have also documented the adverse impacts on their lives. During his 2-years prob, he has figured out that the water stored in the Merani dam only cultivates 1000 acre of the land which belong to the notables of the area. While on the other hand the indigenous population of the Dasht who had been cultivating with the same rainy water almost 80000 acres mainly of the palm trees.

These displaced persons remained under the open sky in the burning sun of where the temperature reaches to 54c usually in the summer. Despite the period of four years has been passed and displaced people are still living in the tents provided to them by the local and international NGOs. The government responsible institution did not take any notice in order to support and compensate the people. These people live on the borrowed land and live with a natural sense of otherness, they have been warned to leave this land, which causes eruption of the conflicts.

The researcher Shareef Shambezai has shared a detailed account of his findings during a press conference in the press club at Quetta. He has shared urged to divert the attention of the the responsible public institutions and government of Balochsitan to take accurate measures for compensating the displaced people for their land, shelters, livelihood and the destroyed schools, health centers and public spaces. The action researcher has also emphasized over reducing the dam level and making accountable the NESPAK and the constructing company DESCON who have ruined the lives and livelihood of the 40000 people of district Kech.