Kachhi Canal Project underway in Balochistan

By Yasir Habib Khan | Gwadar Pro Aug 22, 2022

KACHHI, Aug. 22 (Gwadar Pro)- Kachhi Canal Project (KCP) in Balochistan is going to unleash a “Green Revolution” by irrigating 713,000 acres of barren land in most areas of the province.  

The project is carried out in the same vein as CPEC, which pays special attention to agricultural development and people’s livelihood. Though it does not fall in the ambit of CPEC, it is among those initiatives that receive positive vibes from many agro-based development projects under CPEC.  

Balochistan has no canal system for irrigation. After the completion of Kachhi Canal, the cropping intensity of sorghum, oilseeds, pulses and wheat will be increased up to 88.5 percent approximately with Rs19.66 billion (Rs3.82 billion for phase-I) added to the national economy annually. The project would create hundreds of thousands of jobs as well. Areas including Dera Bugti, Naseerabad, Kachhi (Bolan) and Jhal Magsi will benefit.   

Kachhi Canal is also known as the ‘Green Revolution’ project of Balochistan. Apart from irrigating barren lands, it would also mitigate drinking water stress for about two million people.  

KCP is located in a typical arid zone climate, characterised by high temperature and low rainfall, where economically sound agriculture is only possible under irrigated conditions. Now, things are being changed for the poor people of Balochistan, the most underdeveloped part of the country.

The project is being financed by the federal government through its Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP). The work of the project is being executed by WAPDA in collaboration with the Kachhi Canal Consultants. So far, an expenditure of around Rs100 billion has been incurred on the project since its start in 2002.

According to a senior WAPDA official, the authority has already constructed a 363-km main canal and 81-km long allied water distribution system to irrigate 72,000 acres of land in Phase-I. “Kachhi Canal is a vital project to alleviate poverty and eradicate extremism in remote and backward areas of Balochistan by developing irrigated agriculture and an agro-based economy in the province”, the official said. 

Terming the land being cultivated in Sui and adjacent areas of Dera Bugti district through Kachhi Canal as a good omen for Balochistan, the official said the project has brought phenomenal changes to the locals as corp cultivation is gaining momentum due to availability of water. He also said now green fields can be seen in the areas of Dera Bugti.

According to the official, phase-I of the project has been almost completed as work only on 40-km is remaining which is under progress. To a question, he said PC-I for the phase-II (58-km) and phase–III (39-km) is being prepared by the consultants, under which command areas of 267,000 acres in District Nasirabad & Bolan and 344,000 acres in Nasirabad, Bolan & Jhal Magsi districts would become cultivated. “The main incremental benefits of the project for irrigation of 611,000 acres of land lies in Phase-II & III.”

Moreover, the WAPDA official said, as per approved timeline of Consultancy Contract Agreement, the Consultants will submit the detailed engineering design, tender documents and the PC-I of Phase-II & III by September 2022. The actual construction of the Phase-II & III works will commence after the approval of the PC-I by the competent forum.

Furthermore, the WAPDA official said the provincial irrigation department had taken over the completed portion of the main canal and allied distribution system (Balochistan portion) in March 2021. However, the remaining portion of the main canal (Punjab Portion) shall be taken over from the authority concerned after sanction/arrangement of staff & other administrative issues. So far the command area of 52,000 acres has been developed under Phase-I by the provincial agriculture department whereas the remaining is under progress.

According to documents, the original PC-I for KCP was approved by the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) at a cost of Rs31.2 billion in September 2003 with scheduled completion date of June, 2007. However, due to multiple reasons including deteriorated law and order and financing difficulty, the work could not be completed as per the original schedule.

Reportedly, the project runs through the areas of Balochistan that remain the ‘hub of terrorism by separatist elements,’ particularly after the death of the former governor Sardar Akbar Bugti in 2006. Many people affiliated with the project died and were injured while working near Sui in Dera Bugti. On the other hand, due to inordinate delay in the project, ECNEC approved the 1st revised PC-I (phase-I) of KCP at Rs57.6 billion in December 2013, including an additional lining of 97 kilometers and dividing the project into three phases (phase-I, II & III) with the expected completion date of phase-I by December 31, 2013.

However, the project completion was again delayed. Subsequently, ECNEC had to approve the 2nd revised PC-I at Rs80.4 billion in March 2017.

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