CHITRAL: It was a moment of joy for the dwellers of the remote Kalash valley of Bamburet when the lights were turned on amid applause at the 250 kilowatts hydel-power unit on Sunday.
Hundreds of villagers had gathered at the site to attend the colourful ceremony. The elders expressed joy through spontaneous dance.The project was completed by the Sarhad Rural Support Programme (SRSP) with the financial assistance of Australian government (AusAid).
SRSP Chief Executive Masoodul Mulk, Lt Colonel Salman of Chitral Scouts, senior SRSP official Ihsanullah Khan and others were also present.Lt Colonel Salman stated that the electricity from the unit would help improve living standards and boost economic activities in the valley.
The powerhouse producing 200 kilowatts of electricity is the second built by the SRSP in the Bamburet valley with the earlier unit producing 50 kilowatts having been commissioned a year ago.
Masoodul Mulk explained to the audience that two years ago he had visited the village with a delegation from KFW Germany and had promised to assist the valley in expanding its production of micro-hydro electricity.
“This was delayed due to technical reasons. The present project has been completed with the assistance of AusAid, which had provided Rs1.8 million to complete it in less than eight months,” he added.
He said the project would bring electricity to over 600 households. Another feature of the project is the water-heating unit, which would supply extra electricity to heat water at the community maternity home and in the mosques.
The SRSP chief executive said the micro hydro-units being set up by the SRSP would be run as social enterprises and the income would be used for maintenance work and also for social development. “The funds would be managed by the locals and the SRSP would help build their capacity to do so,” he explained.
On the occasion, correspondent of Daily Telegraph, UK, Peter Oborne, who was visiting Chitral and attended the function, said that as a cricket lover he had always supported England against Australia in the Ashes series. “But today I am appreciative of the Australian government for finding such an innovative way of funding to solve problems of the people in remote areas and wished UK do more of this,” he remarked.