People affected by the Mangla Dam Raising Project (MDRP) have threatened to launch a protest movement against the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) government from September 21 if it fails to give them a schedule for the completion of their rehabilitation.
Addressing a news conference at the Mirpur Press Club on Friday evening, representatives of over 100 affected families and heads of various action committees fighting for their rights announced that they would hold anti-government rallies across the district and hold a sit-in outside the Prime Minister House if development work at New Mirpur City is not resumed and if they are not given a schedule for the completion of their rehabilitation. They also said they would resist filling of the dam to its maximum level (1,242 feet) if their demands were not met.
The announcement was made by Young Action Forum (YAF) Chairman Raja Maroof, YAF President Raja Tasleem Anjum and MDRP Affected Welfare Committee President Raja Iqbal Kiyani.
Under the movement, they said that initially protests will be held at the mausoleums of eminent spiritual leaders Pir Naik Alam Shah and Baba Peera Shah Ghazi on September 21 and 28. From October 5, they will hold a sit-in outside the Prime Minister House, while rallies will be taken out in New Mirpur city and two small towns where houses were supposed to be built to house the displaced people.
Anjum, the YDF president, said that a delegation of affected people will also move the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNHCR) to take notice of the government’s “human rights violations” against them.
The action committee heads said that development work at New Mirpur city has been suspended for the past six months, adding that not even 40 per cent of the has been completed so far, despite repeated promises by the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) and the AJK government. They said the situation has become worse due to the damage caused by recent rains in AJK.
They lashed out at AJK Prime Minister Chaudhry Abdul Majeed and said that he has “stopped caring for the problems of the dam affected people in the reign of power”.
An official of the Mangla Dam Resettlement Organisation, who requested not to be named, said his organisation has asked Wapda authorities to set a final deadline for completion of development works in New Mirpur City and four towns: Islamgarh, Dadayal, Siakh and Chakswari “to end the prevailing anguish and uncertainty among the affected people”.
No relevant official of Wapda could be reached to comment on the issue.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 16th, 2012.