Saturday September 25, 2021

The Swat Expressway

July 01, 2016

According to a media report, construction work of the Swat Expressway will commence soon. The 81 km long expressway is to be completed at a cost of Rs28.30 billion. The project will start from Karnal Sher Khan Interchange of Peshawar-Islamabad Motorway and culminate at Chakdara. It merits a mention that the mega Baizai Irrigation Channel project has almost been completed at an estimated cost of Rs3.4 billion and is expected to irrigate 25000 acres of agricultural land in Mardan and Malakand districts of the province. The project will be helpful in increasing agricultural production and reducing poverty.

The proposed Swat Expressway will pass through the Matta, Shamozai, Babozai, Mian Khan, Pepal, Kohi Barmol villages under the command of newly constructed Baizai Irrigation Channel. This will deprive the people of their limited small land-holdings rendering the mega irrigation channel project useless and redundant. Furthermore, thousands of residents of the above mentioned areas working in the Middle East are being repatriated due to economic slowdown there and are thus going to be jobless. The proposed expressway depriving the people of their small land-holdings will further add to their woes. Already, the villages’ elders have held protest meetings in the Katlang area against the proposed Swat Expressway as according to them the precious land was being acquired with not seeking their consent for the project. They have stated that the provincial government and its departments as well as the project consultants have yet to take landowners into confidence. Despite their worries, nobody in the government has told them anything about the project or given them any assurance in this regard. The elders have stated that the proposed project has neither been demanded by the inhabitants of the above mentioned villages, nor it has any benefit for them. They asserted that their land should not be destroyed and they should be heard before finalising the project. They have argued that if the expressway was necessary, then it should be built according to its old alignment from Katlang to Palai village in Malakand district instead of giving it a curve and passing it through Matta, Shamozai, Ghundo and Babozai areas. Another alternative could be widening and improving the existing Mardan-Malakand-Chakadara road with a tunnel in Malakand mountain range at a much lower cost, besides saving precious agricultural lands.

Khan Faraz