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Kurram Tangi Dam, Pakistan


The Kurram Tangi Dam Project (KTDP) is a multipurpose water development initiative located across Kurram and Kaitu Weir river in North Waziristan district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). The project is located across Kurram river in North Waziristan Agency, about 14 KMs upstream of Kurram Garhi Head works and 32KMs North of Bannu City in previously Federally Administrated Tribal Area (Fata).

The feasibility study, detailed engineering design, and tender documents of the project were completed in 2005. The Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif laid the foundation stone of the controversial dam on March 3, 2017, allegedly without consulting the locals. 

The announcement sparked a wave of protest demonstrations in the area to convince the government to revisit the decision of constructing the dam that could completely wipe out their identity from the area.

The construction of the longed-contentious Kurram Tangi Dam has triggered a strong reaction from the Kabul Khel tribe of North Waziristan Agency (NWA), vowing its construction would be resisted fiercely. 

The Kurram Tangi project has been controversial since 1936, when it was first proposed by the British government. Kabul Khel tribe decried the construction of this dam since then. Including freedom fighter Mirza Ali Khan, when he went into self-exile to Afghanistan during the 1960s, highlighted his resentment against the construction of the dam as it would wipe out the identity of its people from the area.

The Kurram Tangi project has been controversial since 1936, when it was first proposed by the British government, and Kabul Khel tribe decried the construction of this dam. Mirza Ali Khan, known as the Faqir of Ipi, went into self-exile to Afghanistan to show his resentment against the construction of the dam during 1960, as it would wipe out the identity of its people from the area. He then said that Faqir of Ipi would only returned if the government signed an agreement with him regarding non-construction of the dam.

Sources said that about 4451.5421 hectares of land required for the water reservoir has a population of about 12,000 living in 32 villages, with an average size of seven persons per family. Their economic grouping includes landowners, tenants, herdsmen, among others. They will need to be resettled due to the inundation of the reservoir area. In addition, 142 cattle sheds, 266 wells, 47 watercourses, about 20 kilometres of roads, about 43 km dirt tracks, 29 primary schools, 11 middle/high schools, one vocational training centre, three madrassas, a hospital, two basic health units, two mother and child health centres, and three veterinary clinics will also be affected.

An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the project was conducted in 2004 as part of an overall feasibility of the project. “The review of this EIA during the present assignment has revealed that it needs to be significantly upgraded to meet the national regulatory requirements,” the report added. It said baseline surveys need to be repeated to gather information about those likely to be affected by the construction of the dam.

As estimated by the EIA in 2004, about 6070.3 hectares of land would be required for the entire project, including the dam, reservoir, powerhouses, and canals of which about 4937.16 hectares or 83% are privately owned, while about 1052.2 hectares or about 17% is state owned. Almost 75% of this land is required for the reservoir, which means about 688 hectares of agricultural land would be lost.

Since 2004, the design has been changed and the height of the dam has been raised to 322 feet (98 metres), increasing the reservoir area to 4451.54 hectares, and the storage capacity to 1480176000 cubic meters. The construction of three new canals for the project will require about 930.776977 hectares of land, 25% of which is in the militancy-hit tribal territory of North Waziristan Agency, while the remaining 75% lies in the Bannu district. About 404.686 hectares will be covered by construction of project structures like the main dam including its appurtenant structures, powerhouses and the weir on Kaitu River.

The elders of the area convened a huge jirga on April 10, 2017 in NWA to take the final decision that the construction of what they dubbed “politically-motivated dam” would not be allowed at any cost. The elders vowed that they would not compromise on the issue because it is a matter of death and life and it could only be materialised on their dead bodies.

In May 2019, a FIR was lodged against incumbent member of parliament and other activist for inciting people to attack construction site. [3]

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Kurram Tangi Dam, Pakistan
State or province:khyber Pakhtunkhwa
(municipality or city/town)North Waziristan
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict: 1st level:Water Management
Type of conflict: 2nd level :Land acquisition conflicts
Dams and water distribution conflicts
Specific commodities:Electricity

Project Details and Actors

Project details:

According the documents the Kurrum Tangi Dam Project (KTDP) is multipurpose water development projects located across Kurram and Kaitu Weir river in North Waziristan district of KP.

Kurrum Tangi dam project (KTDP) is divided in two phases which include Phase-I Kaitu Weir hydro power project, and Phase-II Kurrum Tangi dam project (KTDP).

Work on Kaitu Weir project has been started in 2016 and the project will have a height of 18 ft and Feeder Tunnel Discharge Capacity will be 633.4 cusecs.

The project is scheduled to be completed by April 2019 and on completion the project will generate 18.9 Megawatt of electricity and will irrigate around 16380 acres of land.

Kaitu Weir has further been divided into two components which includes Kaitu Weir hydro project, development of affiliated structure and development of command area the project.

The first component is being executed by Wapda while the second one by FATA Secretariat. American aid agency USAID is funding the main portion of the Kaitu Weir Hydro project while Italian government is funding development of command area of the project [1,2].

The total cost of the project is $104.18 billion which will be shared by local Annual development plan (ADP) of $ 2.09 million and 31.42$ billion by the Italian government.

The phase-II of the KTDP will start later which includes the dam height of 322 ft and it has the gross storage capacity of 1.20 MAF while it will generate 83.4 MW (350 GWh) electricity. The total command Area of the project is 84,380 acres which will be irrigated through Sheratalla Canal 12,300 acres, Spaira Ragha Canal 4,080 acres and Thal Canal 68,000 acres.

Project area:6070.2846
Level of Investment:104,180,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:500,000
Start of the conflict:05/09/1936
Company names or state enterprises:Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) from Pakistan
Relevant government actors:Government of Pakistan

Government of Italy [1]
International and Finance InstitutionsUnited States Agency for International Development (USAID) (USAID) from United States of America

Conflict and Mobilization

IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Kabalkhel tribe
Forms of mobilization:Land occupation
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Property damage/arson
Threats to use arms
Refusal of compensation

Impacts of the project

Environmental ImpactsPotential: Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place


Project StatusUnder construction
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
Development of alternatives:Negotiation going on with community elders.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure

Sources and Materials

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[1] Government of Italy. Attività della Cooperazione Italiana (see pag.380 on the Kurram Tangi Dam)

[2] Internazionalia. #Pakistan. Una rapida marcia verso progresso e industrializzazione

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Land acquisition talks fail: Tribesmen warn of resisting Kurram Tangi Dam Phase II construction

‘Kurram Tangi Dam not acceptable come what may’

Work on Kurram Tangi Dam in full swing

Frontier Works Organization

The International News - Kurram Tangi Dam construction ‘inevitable’

Syed Bukhar Shah

April 4, 2019

Tribal News Network - North Waziristan youths protest against construction of Kurram-Tangi Dam

[3] Dawn - MNA Ali Wazir booked for raising anti-state slogans

The Newspaper's CorrespondentUpdated May 07, 2019

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Protest against Kurram Tangi dam

Other documents


Meta information

Contributor:Hassan Turi
Last update13/05/2019



"Construction of Kurram Tangi dam is question of life and death for Kabulkhel tribe", writes the banner