PESHAWAR: Residents of Swat’s Bahrain sub-district have moved the Peshawar High Court against the construction of a hydropower project which they say could adversely affect the area’s environment.
“The Daral Khawr Hydropower Project is a run-of-the-river dam with an estimated capacity of 36 megawatts,” said Zubair Torwali, executive director of a local organisation called Idara Baraye Taleem-o-Taraqqi, at a joint press conference with community counsel Ahmed Rafay Alam at the Peshawar Press Club on Tuesday.
Torwali said that the project, first conceived in 1998 by the Sarhad Hydel Development Organisation (SHYDO), will use the flow of Daral River, which is also used by residents of Bahrain Town for agricultural, drinking and other domestic purposes. “The hotel industry of Bahrain is also located along this river.”
“The project envisages diversion of this river through a six-kilometre-long tunnel upstream of Bahrain for hydel power generation,” he said.
Bahrain Town, which is located at the meeting point of Daral Khawar and Swat River, is said to have a population of around 30,000 people.
He said that initially the Asian Development Bank was funding the project but pulled out of it once the local community approached them with their reservations.
Torwali was of the view that construction of an access road to the surge tank site along Daral Valley will require acquisition of land and felling of trees and forest cover, resulting in threats of landsliding and flooding due to loss of watershed.
“We do not want that this project be shelved as we are aware of the energy crisis faced by the nation. But our concerns should be addressed and the project should be redesigned,” he said.
He blamed authorities in the SHYDO for keeping the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa chief minister in the dark about people’s reservations on the project and managed to issue tenders on March 17.
“The project does not conform to the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) standards. The petitioners’ aim is not to stop the dam but to safeguard their legitimate rights,” Alam said.
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