KOHISTAN: Power generation from the Dobair Khwar Hydro Power Project (DKHPP) was suspended for the fourth consecutive day on Thursday after it was forcibly shut off by residents of Lower and Upper Kohistan.
The tribal elders from both areas surrounded the plant to protest against the delay in the acceptance of their demands last week and forced workers to shut down its two turbines with a 65 MW capacity each.
However, the local police deployed personnel in a bid to avoid any damage to the power house’s structure, Lower Kohistan DPO Iftikhar Khan said.
Residents accused Wapda authorities of not honouring its written agreement to spare 13 MW of electricity at cheaper rates. It was also agreed that locals would be hired for non-technical jobs at the plant and market rates would be provided as compensation for the land acquired for the Dasu Hydro Power Project.
Enraged over the unfavourable response from Wapda, a large number of tribal elders and locals from the region held another protest outside the power plant at Pattan. PML-N MNA and Parliamentary Leader for Industries Sarzamin Khan was also present on the occasion.
Speaking to the protesters, Malik Aurangzeb Khan, a former MPA and local tribal elder, condemned the attitude of Wapda authorities. He added officials, including the Wapda chairman, had a written agreement with locals and accepted the demands. However, two years have passed, but they had yet to keep to their commitment.
Malik Fazale Haq, an elder, said people of Kohistan had sacrificed their land for the power projects, but were being duped by the authorities who were supposed to facilitate development in long neglected and poverty-stricken Kohistan.
Malik Misar Khan, another elder, said unless the Wapda chairman and federal minister for water and power engaged in dialogue and gave assurances during a visit to Pattan, they would not allow power generation from DKHPP to resume.
Protesters announced they would gather at the venue and protest again after Friday prayers until the arrival of Wapda authorities.
Kohistan MNA Sarzamin Khan endorsed the demands of his electorates, adding Wapda forced locals to suspend much-needed power generation. The MNA assured he was taking up the matter with the central government and trying to bring Wapda’s senior officials to Pattan to give assurance to the locals.
Meanwhile, according to Kohistan DPO Iftikhar Khan, the protesters dispersed peacefully. He confirmed that power generation at DKHPP remained suspended for the fourth consecutive day.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 18th, 2015.