Elders of Bahrain valley have resolved not to allow the government to commence work on Daral Khwar Power Project and demanded that it first address the communities’ reservations and rework its design.
Stakeholders who convened a meeting to discuss the impact of the project have asked the government to reconsider its decision. Local communities are apprehensive that the project will have negative fallout, leading to shortage of water. More than 40,000 trees will be chopped, depriving hundreds of families of their livelihood. The project will be executed by Sarhad Hydel Development Organisation.
Representatives of the affected communities from Bahrain and Daral valleys agreed to chalk out a strategy in the wake of the recent decision by the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government to commence construction work on the project.
Institute for Education and Development Executive Director Zubair Torwali briefed the participants of the meeting on the campaign’s progress so far. He emphasised the need to chalk out a strategy for immediate action in view of the government’s decision to initiate work on the power project.
Jahangir Malik, an elder of the area said, “We see no benefit from the proposed project. It will cause scarcity of drinking water. Our irrigation channels will dry up which will cause irreparable harm to agriculture.”
All members expressed concern for water resources, the ecology and the environment and resolved to struggle for the cause.
Participants agreed to lobby with government representatives. They also decided to file a petition in the court to persuade the government to enter into a dialogue with community members.
Bakht Buland, a community leader and political worker said they would not permit any project which threatened to disrupt their lives. “The project will destroy everything. We will write a letter to the chief justice of the Supreme Court to request him to halt work on the project.”
Another participant, Inamullah said they would use every channel to advocate their cause and convey their message through electronic and print media. “We will also go to court to initiate a legal process against the project,” he said
The elders formed a seven-member committee comprising civil society workers and elders of the affected communities.
Community members, political workers and social activists and community participated in the meeting.
The hydel power project which will generate 36.6 megawatts electricity was approved in the 27th meeting of the board of directors of Sarhad Hydel Development Organization on March 17. The meeting was chaired by K-P Chief Minister Amir Haider Khan Hoti.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 24th, 2012.