The rising waters of the Indus river in Pakistan, which are filling the Tarbela Reservoir, blocked by a man-made dam, are uprooting eighty thousand people.
The rising waters of the Indus river in Pakistan, which are filling the Tarbela Reservoir, blocked by a man-made dam, are uprooting eighty thousand people. They live in the hundred or so villages that are being inundated by the lake that is slowly but relentlessly rising as the snow melts in the distant Himalayas to swell the Indus.
The people in the reservoir area have been warned many times over the last seven years that they must leave their homes, in the name of progress, and move to the five new townships the authorities are providing on the banks of the reservoir. Only now that the waters are beginning to swirl through their lands and into their houses, have they been perusaded to leave.
Army engineers with motorboats and other craft have been called in to rescue those who have left it too late -- almost half of the population who must lose their homes. Thirty-two villages, where 27 thousand people lived have already been submerged. Some fifty villages are still inhabited and must be evacuated by the end of September. There is heavy rain in the catchment areas and it is the flood season which means that if the engineers' calculations go wrong, thousands of lives will immediately be in danger.
The authorities say the entire evacuation operation is voluntary. But various incentives, including cash compensation, have produced little result. In the villages where the water is now lapping at the houses, the people who have made their homes on this land for centuries have no choice but to leave.
The one-billion-dollar Dam project has been financed by several Western governments under the direction of the Pakistan Water and Power Development Authority. It will provide much-needed water for irrigation and electric power.
The People's Republic of China has helped to provide a textile mill in the resettlement area provided for the villagers displaced by the reservoir.