KHYBER Pakhtunkhwa plans to extend the irrigation system to enhance water supply and agricultural productivity in Swabi and Nowshera districts along the right bank of Indus River.
The provincial government has asked the Asian Development Bank to unbundle the Pehur High Level Canal Extension project from the water resource sector project and process it as a standalone loan facility. An ADB loan of about $60m is currently being processed for the project.
About 96pc of the project area for enhancing the irrigation water supply falls in Swabi district and extends partially at the tail end into Nowshehra district. The whole area is spread in the form of two major chunks — Janda Boka and Indus-Ambar.
During detailed designing, consultant will appraise hydropower potential, and if feasible, provisions will be made for installation of a power plant.
The irrigation components of the project include two separate command areas: Janda Boka-Malikabad area of about 1,317 ha and Indus-Ambar area of about 8,814 ha.
The project envisages extension of irrigation water supply to areas located at higher elevations and, therefore, not within the present commanded area of Pehur high level canal.
It is proposed to utilise the available head from Tarbela Dam through pressure pipes offtaking from the Gandaf Tunnel opening into cultivable land at higher elevations.
The proposed Janda Boka area lies near the Gandaf Tunnel outlet from Tarbela reservoir towards the right of Pehur High Level Canal (PHLC), while the Ambar area starts about 5km to the west of Swabi town, and is spread on the left side of Maira Branch. Similarly, the Indus area adjoins the Ambar area towards the west and extends to the left till the end reaches of Maira Branch.
A report prepared by the irrigation department for the ADB envisages increased water-use and on-farm management capacities through development of on-farm works including water courses; introduction of high efficiency irrigation systems in part of the area; establishment of demonstration centres and capacity development of farmers for efficient utilisation of available water resources; and, increased domestic water-supply capacities.
The existing cropping intensity in the project command area is estimated at a meagre 52.4pc (14.08pc in kharif and 38.32pc in rabi). The principal kharif crop is maize (10.36pc) and rabi crop is wheat (36.92pc). It is evident that with such a low cropping intensity, farming in the command area is below subsistence level and is unsustainable.
The yield level is quite low due to erratic and inadequate rainfall and required moisture.
With the project completed, there would be enormous improvement in the cropping pattern and cropping intensity with additional land coming under cultivation. The project is expected to improve cropping intensity to165.75pc.
Potential for hydropower generation exists at pressure pipe outlets before the pressure pipes discharge into the main canals. During detailed design, consultant will appraise hydropower potential, and if feasible, the project designs will make provisions for installation of a power plant.