SWABI: Qaumi Watan Party and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) local leaders have called for expediting the process of land acquisition and construction of the Pehur High Level Canal Extension Project (PHLCEP).
Sources in the PTI-led coalition government told Dawn here on Saturday the total cost of the much-delayed project was $96.6 million, of which $86.41 million would be provided by the Asian Development Bank and rest by the provincial government.
The incumbent and then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had inaugurated work on the construction of the canal in May 1998, which was completed in 2005.
The 26-kilometere-long project is also known as STFA Canal as it was constructed by a Turkish construction firm, STFA, at a cost of Rs6,460 million. This is the first ever parabolic canal. The area directly benefited from the project is about 79,600 kanals.
The Pehur canal has been taken from the Tarbela Dam Lake though a huge tunnel, but the successive governments failed to take interest in this project, keeping it in the cold storage for 26 years.
From the new project not only infertile land in Swabi but arid land in Nowshera, the home district of Chief Minister Pervez Khattak, would also be irrigated.
The land acquisition and resettlement is estimated to cost $1.3 million.
QWP leader and adviser to the chief minister Abdul Karim has been vigorously pursuing the project as it will greatly benefit the people of his PK-34, Swabi-IV constituency.
The canal extension project was put in cold storage after the QWP parted ways with PTI in the provincial government in Nov 2013 when Imran Khan expelled two QWP ministers for alleged involvement in corruption.
However, after 20 months the QWP rejoined the PTI government, and Sikandar Sherpao was given the portfolio of irrigation minister and Mr Karim was nominated CM’s adviser, thus they started advocating for early completion of the project.
Sources said the project would boost the agriculture production, providing employment opportunities to thousands of families.
A small power project has also been constructed on the PHLC near Gadoon Amazai Industrial Estate at a cost of Rs753 million, producing 18 megawatt electricity, but it does not benefit the locals.
However, sources in the two parties said the KP government planned to build a power project on the canal to provide cheap electricity to the locals.
When contacted, KP assembly speaker Asad Qaisar, told Dawn construction of small dams was among the top priorities of the provincial government. The Pehur canal extension project would also be exploited for power production along with meeting the irrigation requirements, he added.