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Rod-kohi irigation system concept, mechanics, problems and developmental proposals aminullah Khan Gandapur

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* Aminullah Khan Gandapur

1. Introduction
1.1. Rod Kohi is a unique system of irrigation, as being practiced since centuries in the regions of Derajat, i.e. the areas of Dera Ismail Khan and Dera Ghazi Khan. I have intentionally used the old name because naming the many newly created revenue districts may confuse the geography of many, not very familiar with the administrative changes in the limits of these units and sub-divisions of Tank, Rajinpur etc.
1.2. Rod-Kohi, a Persian word also adopted in Pushto is made up of two words; Rod (the correct transliteration would be “Raud”, but the British for the last one and a half century, due to the limitation of their articulation of this word started writing it as such) means a stream or water channel and Kohi is from the word Koh i.e. hill or mountain as such it literally means; “of or from hill torrents”.

1.3. This system of irrigation; which has developed over the centuries of toiling experience; do not seem to have a peer in any other system or place. It is without a predecessor and without a successor. Lately certain other areas and systems of flood irrigation are also being referred to as Rod-Kohi, or for that matter grouping Rod-Kohi with, what is now being referred to as “Spate Irrigation”. But, if one looks into the details of the hill torrent behaviour, their intensity and frequency; velocity and ferocity and the quantity and quality of it water and the mode of taming and controlling and diverting its water onto and into the fields is widely different from the systems it is being grouped with. All these systems have little similitude to what has been known and called Rod-Kohi irrigation in practice and in available official record.

2. The Import and Impact of the System on the Area and People
2.1. Captain Crosthwaite the Settlement Officer of D.I.Khan District (presently the revenue districts of D.I.Khan and Tank) wrote far back in 1903 in his Assessment Report of the Damann Tract (the area as it is locally called to this day)

(and I quote from page-3 para-3)

“There is no tract in the Punjab or in the North West Frontier Province in which the conditions of life are so arduous. The extremely precarious cultivation depends on the hill torrents. These often fail, on the other hand heavy floods may sweep away every dam, scour out the channels, make the rebuilding of the dams impossible and finally run to waste in the Indus. Years of scarcity follow brief periods of prosperity. The harvest in good years is so bountiful that the people make shift to tide over the cycles of bad years. There is always a scarcity of drinking water. A few villages near the passes get their drinking water from the Kalapani zams. A few near the river get it from wells. But in the Daman proper wells are most expensive to sink and their water brackish ad undrinkable. Most villages are dependent on kachcha tanks which breed guinea worm in profusion. Some villages derive a supply from water holes sunk in the beds of the large torrents. Both these supplies fail at the beginning of the hot weather men and cattle then migrate to the Indus. Those who remain have to go long distance to water. Men drink once a day and the cattle every second day. Washing is an impossible luxury. When the rain falls and the floods come down the people return to their villages. It is possible in the hot weather to ride 30 miles and neither hear a dog bark nor see the smoke of a single fire. The villages are deserted: the house doors padlocked and the entrances to their yards and cattle byres blocked with thorns. Heavy clouds and thunder over the Takht-i-Suleiman set the peoples faces homeward once more.”
2.3. Regrettably, after a century of development and technological advancement, the dilemma of the region and the plight of a Rod-Kohi farmer have has multiplies in size and nature. In fact these have grown from bad to worse.

2.4. It is so unfortunate that over a million hectares of land is being irrigated and cultivated under this system, yet there are very few people; even amongst those who are officially responsible for the managing and operating the system; have genuinely tried to understand the system and its mechanics, leave aside, giving it a serious and practicable thought for its development.

2.5. In a symposium on Rod Kohi agricultural problems and prospects sponsored by BARD Project of Pakistan Agricultural Research Council and TIPAN Project of NWFP Agricultural University was held at Agricultural Research Station, D.I.Khan in November 1989. There I had made some observations or lamentation; which I repeated three year in May 1992 in the National Agricultural Conference held at Pakistan Rural Development Academy, Peshawar. Yet another 15 years of unyielding toil and impoverishment have gone by; as I stand here before you in all my humility to re-quote some lines from that paper before this august gathering, without rancour or complaint.
2.6. “The Rod-Kohi irrigation system is a unique one prevalent, not only in most parts of Dera Ismail Khan but also in some other parts of the country including the district of Dera Ghazi Khan. It has its own peculiarities and abnormalities its own oddity and unconventionality; its own style and romance and of course its own problems and limitations. But the irony of the situation is that whereas everyone admits its importance and is more than prepared to talk about it, yet no one so far, has made an effort; an honest and selfless effort; to understand the spirit and importance of this system and make a dedicated and sincere endeavour to improve it. Lip-service has been all that we have been prepared to pay. This is probably the first time that a forum has been provided to ascertain and locate and air the problematic limitation of the system. Let us hope that this one goes beyond the frontiers of lip-service, manuscripts and transcripts and lead to concrete steps of improvement.”
2.7. A mere look at the prevailing conditions of life and cultivation in these areas and the cropping intensity, frequency and productivity of these years and compare these to those of the past, should be enough to manifest the plight and suffering of the general population and my humble submissions.
3. The Concept and Mechanics of Rod-Kohi Irrigation System
3.1. Before we proceed to discuss the problems and their remedial measures and suggest ways of improvement, a brief explanation of the system itself seems to be necessary for those who are not acquainted and well versed with the system itself and its mechanics.
3.2 The hill torrents gushing down from the western hills are classified in two categories; the ones having some perennial flow besides having the torrential floods are called Zams and the others having no perennial flow are called Rauds or simply referred to as Nalas. They have catchment’s areas ranging from well over 13,000 square miles to less than 100 miles. As such they differ in size, frequency, velocity, flood duration and quality of water and thus in problems and their magnitude.
3.4 The water of these hill torrents are caught up by “Sadd /Gandis” (earthen temporary dams thrown across the bed of the torrents) to catch and stop the entire flood flowing in the deep ravines and raise it to the level of the fields around. And it is here that the system differs from other systems, especially the Barani or Sailaba systems. It is only in this system where the entire flow of the torrent is blocked, raised and diverted to the embanked fields, through shallow surface channels and trail dikes called “Khulah” and "Pal" respectively. Once the fields dependent on one particular Gandi are filled, the Gandi in the main bed is cut and the water allowed to flow down the ravine/Nullah to the next Gandi in the series. This timely cutting of the Gandis, is one of the most important feature of the system; not only to ensure irrigation of the downstream lands and villages but also to make sure that the main channel does not get silted up and retain its capacity of passing the entire flood flow and should not spill over and cause problems/damage to the fields and property resulting from un-harnessed sheet flow. The water thus retained in the embanked field is allowed to sink slowly in the ground during the next few weeks. Thus the water/ moisture of the Monsoons i.e. July/August is taken to, and utilised for the “RA’BI" cultivation of mustard, rapeseed, gram and wheat and that of March/April, for the KHARIF crops of Maize and millet. According to a London based author only one third of the water used in the irrigated areas actually utilized by the plant the rest go waste into the ground. What is the percentage of water utilized for plant growth under this system where it is subjected to evaporation from the summer sun for six weeks or more before any crop is sown in it and how much seeps into the lower soil beyond the reach of the plant or crop by that time, can bee anybody’s guess. My estimation is that it cannot be more than 5 percent by that criterion. May be someday some agricultural scientist or an irrigation engineer give it some thought and consideration and correct my estimation.

4. The Principles and General Rules of water distribution and Irrigation Rights
4.1 As a general rule, the Rod-Kohi irrigation rights are based on the principle of SarobaPaina. (Literally meaning upper riparian and lower riparian) Its general interpretation would be that the lands at the head of the channel has the first right to fill his fields with as much water as he requires for his cultivation by blocking the bed of the torrent with a Sadd or Gandi but then the Gandi must be cut in time and the bed cleared to allow the water to lands below. However limits on the sides of the torrent are fixed for every Gandi. This area is referred to in the official record of rights as “Raqba Mutallqa” . This is done

  1. Firstly to ensure the availability of water for some cultivation in the down stream lands and villages and not leave them at the mercy of the upper riparian.

  2. Secondly to restrict the cutting of new Khadds (ravines) which are invariably formed by the free flow of floods on the surface of land to longer distances.

  3. And lastly to ensure that the main bed of the torrent is not silted up by the accumulation of silt at the Gandi/dam site and is washed away while still there is sufficient flow in the bed. So as to retains its capacity of passing the entire flood flow and does not waste out in overflow/un controlled, undirected sheet flow.

4.2 The other essential rule is that even if the “Raqba Mutallqa” is not irrigated and the water has started going waste to the un-entitled lands or there is a danger of its falling into another Khadd and thus cause new cutting; the Gandi must be cut. Because preserving the system is more important than one single crop to a few land owners and their Mutallqa Raqba, of that Gandi. Thus it requires constant vigilance and monitoring by the Collector and his staff to prevent the influential and politically powerful land owners from keeping their Gandis standing to the detriment of the down stream lands and villages and the system. This, unfortunately, has been the most neglected and overlooked aspect of managing the system in our governance.

4.3 One more point about the rights of irrigation requires some elaboration. The irrigation rights have been given to lands far beyond the capacity of the water available/ the annual runoff of a torrent. As such even in wet years and in the best possibly managed conditions too hardly 30 percent of the area can be brought under cultivation. To quote once again from Crosthwaite Assessment Report, “When the Daman is at its best the rich embanked fields are but scattered plots with great stretches of waste between them.” I will elaborate the point by an example. The catchments area of these Zams and Rods range from over 36,000 square km of Gomal Zam to 175 square miles of Sheikh Haider Zam. But irrigation rights on these have been given to 250,000 and 55,124 acres respectively. Or to further simplify it, an acre of Gomal land should receive the runoff from over 35 acres of watershed whereas an acre in Sheikh Haider command area would get it from just about 2 acres, from two acres and one Marla to be precise. As explained in the Table-1 below:

Table No-1


Name of Zam/ Nullah

Area with


(in acres)


area in



Rec. Flood

in Cusecs


Per: Flow

in cusecs





watershed (in acres) for irrigating every acre of the dependent area


































Sh. Haider







Zams /Hill Torrents of D.I.Khan
And mind you Sheikh Haider Zam catchments area does not fall in Chirapoonchi hills or in the snow covered mountain of Qaraquram. It is exactly in the very mountain range of Draban and Chowdwan zams and as such has the same annual rainfall. In fact all these five Zams catchments areas have more or less the same annual rainfall. So the rule of convenience for irrigation rights, has been; to legalise irrigation throughout the length nay the Khadds/channel network of the torrent right up to Indus river, so that if ever an uncontrolled flood reaches them; the use of water for them should be legal and more wisely on the part of the British rulers; that they be charged land revenue of Rod-Kohi instead of Barani. Otherwise as most of you who has seen and worked in those areas would bear me out that there are areas in the lower riparian that have not received any flood water during the last 20 years. The irrigation rights hoax is something that the influential few try to create and confuse every developmental venture in these areas, to maintain their strangulating hold on the system and people. In fact those, who cry most about the rights, are the ones who are violating these rights the most. In any case these rights are no divine rights and if these can be changed and are changed in every new Settlement, why can’t these be changed while implementing a new developmental scheme?
.4.4 These water rights developed over the centuries of experience and by mutual consultations/agreements, were first reduced to writing in 1876 during Tucker’s Land Settlement. The main principles, general description and the list of Gandis/Sadds were documented in “Kulyat”, prepared separately for each torrent. Whereas the details of the fields, the location i.e. Khasra No. (plot no.) of the Gandi and Khullas etc were elaborately and unambiguously documented in the Record of Rights, in the Register of “Riwajat Deh-War , (village-wise customs) where every field and the passage to every field is recorded in a sequence.
4.5 These documents once considered sacred and duly respected have been virtually reduced to a scrap paper. Instead the Jungle rule of might is right prevails.
4.6 Government funds are being utilised to divert water to run waste into Indus or to areas not entitled to receive that water, at the whims of the influential political stalwarts.

Permanent structure are being constructed at points where temporary earthen structure are allowed, which are supposed to be cut immediately after irrigation to ensure the flow to lower riparian and to save the channels from silting.

5. The Irrigation Problems
5.1 The main problems in conducting this irrigation are;

  1. These 'Sads/Gandis' are normally imperfectly built and therefore, these often break under the rush of the flood water before any irrigation can be done.

  2. Quite often these are not as yet completed, when the rains set in and the torrents get flooded. The unfinished Gandi is washed away and any subsequent irrigation for that season becomes impossible.

  3. The ill prepared outlets (Charrs) of these Gandis, if not excavated and de-silted, are usually unable to withdraw the entire flood flow from it, the accumulating water weight on the earthen uncompressed structure invariably breaks even a prepared/completed Gandi..

  4. But the farmer’s problem does not end here. If all goes well up to this stage. There is always the danger of the overflowing or breaking of the field embankments. If it does that too mean, no cultivation, no crop.

  5. The scarcity and unequal distribution of rain in these regions make any subsequent watering uncertain and almost impossible. The crop has to mostly struggle for maturity on the initial moisture retained in the soil of an embanked field and less than 30 mm of winter rains, that too if he is lucky enough to have it on time.

  6. The erratic and untimely rains resulting in flooding the torrents cause damage to the standing crop and fields especially embankments.

5.2 The rich silt laden water that these hill torrents bring and spread on these alluvial plains make the soil of the region which can easily be classed from good to very good.

But managing its water has been and unfortunately after a century of technological and mechanical advancement, still remains a big problem to be effectively tackled. Partly because of the nature of the system but mostly because of the apathy and neglect on the part of the successive governments that have not paid the attention that it deserves to exploit the full productivity potential of these areas by managing the water more effectively and judiciously.

    1. Some of the reasons of deterioration are:

  1. The laxity of governmental control, which has worsened due to the separation of judiciary from magistracy where the magisterial powers of the District Officer Revenue and Estate (the new designation for Assistant Commissioner/Collector Rod-Kohi, under the Local Government Ordinance) has been taken away making the office at least for the purposes of Rod-Kohi irrigation totally impotent. The civil court procedures take months whereas the torrential flood lasts for days and in some case run only for hours. Those seeking justice and the redress of their grievance are left frustrated and without any irrigation and cultivation.

  2. The ever increasing political interference arising from the political expediencies, resulting in bureaucratic disinterest and neglect. It can be said without any hesitation that almost 80% of the Deputy Commissioners/ Collectors in the past 3 decades, might not have visited any Rod-Kohi irrigation site during the flood season during their entire tenures, what to talk about making any serious endeavour to understand the import and mechanics of the system.

  3. Silting of the main torrent beds and thus losing the capacity to pass the full flow to the lower riparian. The paucity of funds and timely availability of earth moving machinery, for the construction of Sadds/Gandis and de-silting/excavation of the main channels. The use of dozers and tractors for the de-silting and excavation of the channels have not proved effective. The answer is large excavators with chain tracks. Unfortunately the available machinery can to a great extent help in controlling the rather uncontrollable torrents, is being used to disrupt and sabotage the system and usurp the water rights of others

  4. The declining moral values of the society and the selfish cut throat approach in our everyday dealing.

6. Proposals for Development of Irrigation cum Flood Control
6.1 The significance and necessity of the long term schemes of permanent nature and their efficacy need not be emphasized. Nor do the numerous advantages that they would have on the overall economic structure and the uplift of the area, require any further elaboration. The best and most obvious solution, from the point or view of agriculture, as well as flood control, will of course be the construction of a series of small and medium size dams on some of these torrents; to store the flood water of these torrents in the Monsoons and then release it in a small perennial flow throughout the year, through small canal/channels.
6.2 The opposition to these is mostly political rather than technical. The main and the most trumpeted objection to damming these torrents has been the “rapid siltation rate”, whereas the ground reality is that the influential want to retain the strangulating hold on the supply of this water at will.
6.3 Lately I came across a draft text on “SPATE IRRIGATION IN PAKISTAN; SCOPE, VISION AND GUIDELINES” by one Rina Saeed Khan with contributions even from PARC/WRRI, where to my horror I came across the following:
“Dams are not an option in many spate irrigated areas due to rapid siltation that occur when dams are supplied from spate rivers carrying very high sediment load…. An example of a controversial upstream development is the Gomal Zam Dam in D.I.Khan, which will come at the detriment irrigated agriculture in a substantial area. The longevity of the Dam –due to heavy sedimentation has been seriously questioned in a series of feasibility studies”
6.4 There cannot be a more ignorant and irresponsible passage than this, especially about an ongoing project for 163,000 acres of land, where the soil has been classified from good to very good. The writer should have taken the trouble of confirming at least the life of the Dam from the Project office and design that the Chinese Firm has prepared. This particular Dam has a life of one hundred years. The author; I wishfully hope knows the life spans of the Dams around the world should have told her readers as to how many of those have an equal or more life.
6.5 As for adversely affecting the irrigation of “a substantial area”, she is advised to find out as to how much of land previously receiving flood water from Gomal (which was not even once in 10 years) has already come under the command area of Chashma Right Bank Gravity Canal and receiving 150 water intensity of canal water for their irrigation. As for the word ‘controversial’; it is interesting that even those influential opposing the dam have never uttered a word about it themselves; yes they have spoken through ill informed, unprofessional and amateur self styled experts of some NGOs and the passage is based on that.
6.7 I think this should be enough to explain and manifest the sad fact how our papers are based on hearsays and not ground realities and how casual and slipshod, we are in preparing these.
6.8 Besides that I shall like to place it on record before this august gathering that probably Gomal Zam dam is the only Dam in the world, where not an inch of cultivable land or a foot of road or even kacha track is being affected nor a single person is being dislodged nor a single hut submerged by the reservoir nor the government paying a single penny in the form of land compensation for the land falling in the reservoir. I shall not mention the EIRR as that would embarrass and annoy many. But I cannot refrain from pointing it out that if that is calculated on the figures after the award of contract it should be almost 24-25%.
6.9 But then the most obvious way is not always the most economical way. And we may not be able to find funds for many of the small dams that deserve attention and most of those may not be offering Gomal like high rate of economic return. Hence low cost scheme for improvement of the irrigation and development of the area becomes imperative.
7. The Proposed Low Cost Schemes
7.1 The primary aim of such schemes should be to control the floods and manage this flood water more effectively and judiciously. This will not only reduce/minimize the flood damages but also ensure a smoother, better and more assured irrigation of the area. People would be able to utilize this controlled water in a better way, as the intensity of the flood water would be broken and only manageable quantity of water would flow into their channels and on to their lands.
7.2 Whereas all the genetic research and engineering schemes, including the Green Revolution, have come from what they call the “Top-Down Approach” where progress and proposals originate at the top and farmers are told what to do. But here it could be a “Bottom-up” approach which would be to examine locally tried methods and to make improvement to these, so as to improve the overall system. WRRI have made a commendable and dedicated start in its approach towards Rod-Kohi irrigation. The “Pacca Monha” (the masonry structure inlet of the embanked field) constructed by the local farmers in the big fields to enable them to close the intake point of the filed with wooden planks, was studied and developed for wider use; for diverting, controlling and distributing water in the surface channels like Khulas and Charrs with fairly good and encouraging results. The efficacy of the masonry work having thus proved has been and is being tried now at many points and places by even those farmers themselves, who were previously reluctant for such experimentations.
7.3 Detention Structures
Detention structures at suitable places can be constructed, which should be designed to release the flood of these hill torrents; which normally last from 12 to 24 hours over several days. These do not necessarily mean dams, as we understand them; a storage dam, but a sort of check or delay dam. These will differ from dams in structure, strength and capacity, because they will be merely storing one particular flood and that too temporarily and not the runoff of the entire year, in fact not even all the floods of the monsoons season and the torrential rains at one time. The purpose can be achieved by making some sort of retailing wall or guide ‘bund’ at the mouth of the mountain passes/gorges, from where the torrents gush out. This would be with a view to reduce the outlet, which should permit a calculated maximum flow. The system can be further supplemented with drop structures, designed to break the velocity of the flow, up there in the country where the slope is steeper. A double outlet system can be tried because these outlets alternately used will reduce the silting of the basin up-stream of the structure and thus increase its life.
7.4 The Pick-up Weir System

Pick up weir system can be adopted on all these torrents, with considerable ease and very favourable results. The pick up weirs distributaries constructed at suitable places, to split up the water of the torrents and withdraw water into smaller channels of course in accordance with the establishment water right of the lands of the different villages. These structures will break the intensity of flood before it reaches the lower plain or strike the existing and proposed canals from Chashma or if we are luckier, from Kalabagh. It will also make the irrigation of the dependent area easier, more economical and better guarantied. Two or more channels can be made to withdraw water from one pick up weir, in accordance to its share and in direct proportion to the dependent lands into ‘khulIas’ (the guiding channels)”charrs” (diked outlets of Gandis/dams) and Khahdds (ravines) can be made use of, after the necessary survey and with minor adjustment to cut down the expenditure. It will be, however, necessary to have a controlled masonry work outlet to allow only their proportionate share and no more into this channel taking off from these structures. The need for some small temporary Gandis (earthen dams) on the lines of the existing irrigation system would still no doubt be there but then these would be comparatively requiring much lesser effort and almost negligible funds. (which the agriculturists would be able to afford and manage amongst themselves)

7.5 Some major advantages that the schemes would have:

  1. The flood intensity would be broken and the chances of any damage be villages, lands, canals, roads, electric and telephone lines etc; would be minimized.

  1. The heavy recurring non development expenditure on flood relief and repair work would be saved. Besides it will save a lot of inconvenience to the people and unwarranted embarrassment to the government.

  1. The large amount or funds spent by the government and the people and energies and efforts wasted every year on the construction of the huge “bunds/gandis” (earthen dams) can be saved and spent on some other development project.

  1. The ever present danger of the temporary imperfectly built earthen dam, being washed away by the rush of the water, before any irrigation could be done, will vanish.

  1. As most of the irrigation would be mostly by flow, in contrast to the existing system of complete blockade of the torrent by the earthen dams (bunds) therefore many villages would be able to get the irrigation water simultaneously. In the present system of temporary earthen dams, the entire flood is restricted to one particular village, or to be more precise to one particular dam (bund/gandi) of a particular village.

  1. As each channel would be withdrawing its proportionate share, therefore, if in a particular season the rainfall is lesser and the floods in these torrents are comparatively fewer and smaller: many villages, if not all, along the entire length of these torrents, would be able to receive some water, more or less in their proportionate share and would have the same percentage of land under cultivation in contrast to the present system where the upper few villages under such adverse conditions receive water for irrigation whereas the area further downstream remain without any cultivation what-so-ever.

7.6 The following study as an example would help in understanding and illustrate the effectiveness of this pick-up/distribution weir system. The largest hill torrent in the district is the Gomal zam. The water coming in this torrent is split into Rod Looni and Nala Kot Azam in 2/3 and 1/3 proportion respectively, at a Wandara (Distribution point or it can be called a crude pick-up weir, constructed at Kot Azam in the last quarter of nineteenth century and rebuilt during Bolton days about hundred years back. The 1/3 water coming in Nala Kot Azam; a few miles downstream; is once again split into two equal parts at the crude distributor at Wandara Dewan Shah in the two branches of Nala Gomal and Nala Naskor. If the revenue record of cultivation for the last fifty years or is examined it will be noticed that the villages dependent on Nala Gomal and Nala Naskor, have mostly been under cultivation, whereas those attached to Rod Looni have rarely been properly irrigated or cultivated. Because controlling one sixth of the Gomal flood was much easier than controlling two third its flood. Their Gandis are easier to construct and these usually stand the pressure of the flood and as such are invariably able to irrigate most of the dependent lands. On the other hand Dams on the huge channel of Rod Looni are much larger in size and have got to be strengthened a lot to resist the pressure of the flood. These require weeks of labour and much larger funds. It is rather unconceivable that the Looni dams can be constructed without the earth moving machines/dozers. And yet it is so very unfortunate that they rarely stand before the onslaught of even medium size floods what to talk of a high flood. They are thus washed away before any irrigation could be done. At the same time these two nullahs have caused far too less problems and almost negligible flood damages, as compared to Rod Looni. Even the last month floods resulting from the recent rains have caused havoc to the crops of the upstream villages of Rod Looni.

7.7 If all these big hill torrents, which are more than 6-8 in number in the entire two districts, are split up by an elaborate pick-up weir distribution system into smaller channels, the chances of irrigation would improve considerably. The annual recurring expenditure on the construction of these temporary earthen dams/Gandis would be saved. The damages of floods, including those caused in the operation of the present CRBC would be reduced/minimized.
7.8 The torrents with larger flood discharge can be split at two and in some cases at three places, whereas for smaller ones one pick-up weir will suffice. The governing principal should be that the maximum discharge should not exceed 5000-8000 cusecs in any one particular channel. Because the experience of the past century has shown that this discharge is manageable in the existing peculiar ‘Daman Way” i.e. blocking the bed and raising the water to the embanked fields. Daman is already crisscrossed with ravines and channels (locally called ‘Khadds’. Most of these can be made use of with minor alteration and improvement and utilized under the new scheme. As such most of the excavation work will be saved and cost nothing.
7.8 Spillways and proper pressure release points of concrete and masonry work on the embankments and trail dikes of these pick-up weir would be necessary, to release the surplus water on to the sides in case of unprecedented floods; the possibility of which cannot be totally over-ruled, as these keep appearing every 5-7 years. This way the danger of any undue pressure on these weirs can be averted. This spill water too can be utilized for irrigation purposes, if proper trail dikes are provided for taking the water to far off lands which ordinarily rarely receive any flood water and mostly remain dependent on the drainage of rain water of the plains. Pressure release structures along these trail dikes would also be necessary so that an easy and convenient passage and distribution of this surplus water can be ensured.
8. Epilogue
8.1 As it is a multi-purpose project i.e. improvement of the present Rod-Kohi irrigation system, controlling the flood damages; and ensure an undisturbed operation of the present and future Chashma Right Bank Canals, as these torrents hit them at right angle and would require expensive concrete cross drainage structure. Therefore, it is suggested that this scheme should be given its proper priority.
8.2 This system if adopted, will also save millions of rupees every year, that are and in future too, will otherwise be spent on the repairs of the canals, roads and bridges and other infra structures etc and heavy cross drainage structures on the CRBC lift project. A thorough study and honest calculations may prove that the Government funds thus saved during the next 5-7 years may be much more than those required for the construction of the above suggested structures upstream on the gorges of these hill torrents, for a better and more certain irrigation system/flood control program.
8.3 And my last submission here at the PARC would be that the Rod- Kohi farmers may not be forgotten and shelved in the genetic engineering research activities. They too deserve a share in that, for better productivity, not only for their livelihood but also to be able to contribute effectively in the imminent demographic challenges of the future. The research there can address and focus on many points; some being:

  1. Better more yielding varieties of their crops.

  2. More drought resisting varieties and crops.

  3. Shorter duration crops.

  4. Early sowing varieties in wheat/gram/oil seeds etc so as the July/August filled fields do not remain exposed to summer sun evaporation for longer duration or in the process the moisture going far deep in the soil for germination and plant roots.

  5. Early flowering and fruiting varieties for the Rabbi crops so that the gain formation period is not thwarted by the early hot weather in these areas.

Many such other developments which the Agricultural scientist can think of to meet the challenges of the future. I have full faith that they have the skill, know how, capacity and dedication, if given the task and provided with the required funds and facilities.

8.4 I will like to end the paper by quoting a few verses from the Diwan of the famous Sufi Pushto poet, Abdur Rahaman Baba:
Har cheh kisht yeh pa baran au pah sailab vee

“Everyone whose cultivation is dependent on rain

Dah Hagho umar bah varrah pah azab vee

and floods; shall be in deep trouble throughout his life

Hagha malk che pah kay sind au rodbar na vee

Every country that do not have rivers and torrents

Dehqanan beh hamesha khana kharab vee

in it, its farmers will always be in a wretched state.

Va asman tab beh yeh stargay vi khatalya

They shall be looking towards the sky all the time;

Da baran pah intezara ba bey-khwab vee

and shall remain sleepless, awaiting rain

Hamesha lah khudaya khwast da ubo kandi

All the time, shall be praying to Allah for water;

Ka yeh charay khwast pah umar mustajab vee

water; if ever his life long prayer is answer favourably


A Retrospective Voyage in the Bleak Past
With profound anguish and regrets, I will like to place it on record here, that far back in 1979 shortly after the earth breaking ceremony of the Chashma Right Bank Canal was performed by the then President of Pakistan, late General Zia-ul-Haq, I had presented this idea of the Delay Dams and Distribution Weirs on the major torrents and Zams of D.I.Khan in a seminar organised by the Centre of Excellence in Water Management, of the Punjab Engineering University, Lahore, with a view to ensure safe operation of the proposed CRBC gravity canal and subsequent lift canals. Claiming that the amount thus saved; on the number, strength and sizes of most of these concrete cross drainage structures on these canals; would be sufficient to make up for most of, if not all, the funds required for these weirs etc. I also brought this proposal to the personal notice of then Finance Minister late Ghulam Ishaq Khan at a later stage when the revised PC-1 for the Project was being prepared and on his direction the Ministry of Water and Power vide their Telex message No. W-II/5/4/75/XIV dated December, 11, 1980 directed WAPDA to carry out additional studies including:
Cross drainage work and Rod Kohi scheme to ensure minimum cross drainage work and maximum spreading and utilisation of flood water as part of CRBC Project.”

(Page-14, Revised PC-1 Pro forma, prepared by CRBC Design Cell, May 1981)

WAPDA, with remarkable speed (haste) answered this additional study proposition. Vide Member (Water) DO letter No. CRBC/IPD/9001 (A)/2387 dated December, 27, 1980, they replied:
Rod-Kohi Scheme as part of CRBC is not economically attractive. The reduction of number of cross drainage work would not necessarily result in reduction of cost”.
As a lay man and an ignorant semi-literate farmer, I have somehow, for all these years failed to understand, the import of this reply. A man in street has certainly the right to know; firstly, the term “economically attractive” and to whom all it is unattractive? And secondly as to how and why cutting down thousands of cubic meters of reinforced concrete work would not “reduce the cost”. Naturally he would never get the answer and so would you and I, therefore, your guess can be, as good as mine.

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