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Kohat’s famous watermills slowly grinding to a halt

Kohat’s famous watermills slowly grinding to a halt

KOHAT: Malik Mohammad Ilyas, owner of an over 200 years old watermill, sits on a cot in the mill yard worried about the future of this traditional way of turning the grain into flour.

In his 60s and in good health though, Ilyas laments that the mill’s grinding capacity has gone down gradually owing to the reduced flow of water coming from the famous springs of Kohat that ran the mill. He fears the day is not far when the watermill will grind to a complete halt.

He complains that constructions along the way of the water channel have left a very small amount of water for his flourmill, affecting its production capacity.

Mohammad Ilyas says he is unable to meet the increasing demand of the people, who prefer watermill flour to machine-run mill flour as it is good for health, especially for diabetes and heart patients.

He says the watermill is a blessing for the people as they get their grain grinded at very nominal rates.

Ilyas says his two watermills used to grind up 50 to 60 bags of grain a day when there was abundant water. But, now one of the mills has been replaced by a diesel-run flour mill, while the output from the remaining one has gone down significantly, he adds. However, he says there is still rush of people at his watermill.

Ilyas complains a local elder, Pir Saadullah Shah, has constructed houses around the springs in violation of a resolution passed by the municipal committee on June 16, 1999, prohibiting construction and diversion of the springs water. Ironically, Pir Saadullah Shah also remained member of the committee for a long time, he laments.

Earlier, he says the width of the water channel providing feeding his watermill was 27.5 feet, which has now been reduced to only two feet.

Published in Dawn, July 22nd, 2015

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