Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Rock Art And The Dam

This is second in line of series that I have started on my blog as an initiative to create awareness regarding issues that require our attention. First one I wrote was about tigers in 'Save Our Tigers'.

Courtesy Wikipedia

A very informative article appeared in the The News on Saturday which talked about the Rock Art in Chilas in Northern Pakistan. It talks about various petroglyph and rock arts numbering more than 20,000 scattered in northern areas all along the Karakoram Highway - one of the ancient silk routes. These rock engravings were made by traders, invaders, pilgrims and locals. According to estimates they date back to 5000 BC.

Now here is whats going to happen. The Government of Pakistan has initiated a project to build a dam called Diamir-Bhasha. Also, the Karakoram Highway is being expanded and re-routed due to building of this dam. What this will result in is the fact that Pakistan will lose this cherished heritage will be inundated and lost forever. It even sounds strange writing 'cherished heritage' because the general sentiment is of ignorance and neglect. I am not even touching the subject of 'infidel works' which we Pakistanis some how are afflicted with it seems which renders us blind and oblivious to our thousands of years of heritage in form of Buddha statues, Moenjodaro and even Kalash. We do not own it as our own.

Anyways, I should not be bad-mouthing others when even I have not done anything to contribute in the preservation and management of our heritage. I have visited Chilas I guess 4-5 times and NEVER visited the petroglyphs. Can you imagine? and quite frankly I do not see myself any chance of visiting there any soon :| Talk about apathy.

I may not be against building dams but I am definitely against building Diamir-Bhasha. Huge reservoir dams are unnecessary I think and the purpose can be achieved by building smaller dams. The issue of energy in Pakistan is purely mismanagement. The bureaucracy is inefficient and corrupt. The current government is hell bent on going for Rental Power Projects (RPPs) than working for streamlining the affairs of energy management in the country. RPPs are grossly expensive and not developmental in nature. Government has not done anything to stop electricity pilferage and theft in the state run electricity companies.

According to researcher Prof (Dr) Harald Hauptmann, Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and HumanitiesRon Canter who has been working in this area, "The reservoir would not only inundate 32 villages located between Basha and Raikot Bridge and force resettlement of more than 30,000 people, but also endanger the precious regions archaeological remains some 50,000 rock carvings and 5,000 inscriptions."

Environmentalist Ron Canter states "Bhasha dam will destroy one of the world's largest collections of rock art, carved on boulders along the upper Indus and ranging in age from Neolithic to 16th century. Approximately 50,000 carvings and 5,000 inscriptions are being documented by a German team, but the boulders are too big to be moved. They will either be inundated by Bhasha Lake or destroyed in reconstruction of 100-km of the Karakoram Highway."

Why do we have to take this route when we can manage the deficiency in energy requirement by other means? why do we have to destroy our heritage?

Do we care? I do not think so. Good night and good luck.


a fan said...

There seems to be an article about this in Spiegel, 3 years ago. Part1 and Part2

PostMan said...

yeah the project is that old but work is going slow - typical of subcontinent projects. Even the links given by me date to same time. Nevertheless, the importance of it is gaining more importance day by day.