The River Swat mainly originates at the glaciers of Kalam in the upper region of Swat. The river merges a number of streams and springs through it’s way from Ushu, Utrore, Bahrain, and Madian. The swat river splits the valley through it’s flow from north to south and contributes to the beauty of the region.
River Swat flows at a relatively high speed through the Kohistani territory and reaches Madyan after covering a distance of 35 kilometers.
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Origin of River Swat
Different tributary streams, originating from different tributary valleys, merge into the main river throughout its length. Toward the south of village Madyan, the river gradually slows down and the main 70 km long drainage basin of the river starts which gradually widens into vast alluvial plains with deep and productive soils. The soils of the tributary valleys, formed by the erosion work of the tributary streams, include both alluvial and colluvial deposits of the stream.
Bank of the River
The tributary valleys toward the south of Madyan up to Khwazakhela on both sides of the River Swat, though narrow at the bottom, mostly have gently sloped mountains with shallow to intermediate soils. These valleys receive the highest amount of precipitation, hence they are highly productive and thickly populated. The inter-mountain basin toward the north of Madyan (Kohistan) consists of rocky, rugged and complex mountains and narrow valleys. The mostly steep-sloped mountains with high-glaciated peaks receive lower summer rainfall, possess shallow soils, predominantly covered with natural vegetation and are scarcely populated.
The sloping areas, above the ultimate tree line and below perpetual snow caver (3500-5000 meters) constitute the upland summer grazing pastures. The elevation of the mountains gradually decreases toward the south. Near Qulangai, the valley terminates and the River Swat, after joining the Panjkorha River coming from Dir and Bajour valleys, enters a very narrow zigzag passage. The river subsequently opens near Charsadda at Abazoo after crossing the Arang Barang and Mohmand areas.
Towns and Villages of the River
In the Swat valley, the main towns and villages are situated on both sides of River Swat and are interconnected through roads and telecommunication services. The villages of Chakdara, Shamozai, Kabai, Kanju, Koza Bandai, Bara Bandai, Ningualai, Matta, Durushkhela, Bahrain, and KaJam are situated on the western bank. On the eastern bank of the river the villages of Totakan, Khar, Batkhela, Thana, Kota, Barikot, Ghalagay, Manyar, Odigram, Balogram, and Qambar are lying in the south of Mingora. Also, the villages of Manglawar, Charbagh, Khwazakhela, Fatehpur and Madyan are lying in the north of Mingora.
Roads alongside the River
The parallel road runs from Mingora downward and upward on both sides of River Swat. The road of the eastern bank leads to Totakan in the south and to Bagh Dherai just south of Madayan toward the north. The road of the eastern bank is the main GT Road, while the western bank raad is the ordinary service road. Both roads are linked through bridges near Totakan, Chakdara, Barikot, Kanju, Khwazakhela, and Bagh Dherai. The western bank raad gives out branches to the tributary valleys of Sakhœ, Matta, Shawar, Nikpikhel, and Khazana.
River Swat Conservation Project
Tourism promotion and extending urbanization without any planning led to increasing pollution and encroachment of River Swat. To counteract the process the Environmental Protection Society (EPS) initiated the project with the support of the UNDP through the Small Grants Programme of Global Environmental Facility. The project started in September 1998 and is due for termination during 2002.
The main objectives included information collection about the ecology of River Swat and identifying/ quantifying sources of water pollution; creating awareness in the relevant communities about consequences of water pollution; generating information about aquatic life of River Swat; promoting and coordinating collective actions among selected communities and relevant government agencies for conservation of the River and appropriate riverside land zoning and emphasizing constructions accordingly.
To meet these objectives the process of social mobilization was initiated. In this connection, three different villages Chalyar, Tikdarai and Panr were initially selected for evolving workable systems for sewerage and solid waste management that are to be extended to other villages subsequently. Social mobilization at the sub-divisional level has also been initiated simultaneously for the conservation of the river. Evaluation of the existing level of pollution of the main river and tributary streams is underway in order to identify the main hazardous regions. An ecological survey of the main river and tributary valleys is also under process to evaluate the impact of pollution on aquatic life to facilitate appropriate actions.
An awareness campaign is carried out through media, seminars, workshops and round tables. Motivational material is also extensively used for creating awareness. The River Swat Conservation Act initiated by the project has been adopted as the River Conservation Act for the whole province. Coordination among different stakeholders e.g., government agencies and hotels association, has been promoted to prevent illegal encroachment into the river and its tributaries. The project is hoped to significantly contribute to the conservation of River Swat.
Project for Conservation of Freshwater Network
A feasibility study was conducted by WWF Pakistan during 1999 to protect freshwater network comprising mainly the River Swat, its tributaries and other smaller streams in the region. The study revealed that many freshwater fish species are on the verge of extinction due to lack of awareness, river pollution and fishing practices like electrocution, poisoning, and dynamiting. To explore the possibility of community participation in protecting the ecosystem, the project was started in January 2000, with the following objectives:
• To strengthen community participation in protecting the freshwater ecosystem
• To create awareness among school children residing along with the River Swat
• To establish linkages with and networking of NGOs working for the conservation of freshwater network