ISLAMABAD: Around 70-80% of required land for the Diamer-Bhasha Dam has been acquired while the remaining will be purchased in one and a half month, said Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Secretary Tahir Hussain.
“The land acquisition process, which began in 2010 after signing an agreement with the landowners, was to be completed by December 31, 2013, but it was stalled due to delay in payment of compensation within the agreed time frame,” Hussain explained while briefing the sub-committee of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan.
“The government could arrange only Rs10 billion out of the total cost of Rs54 billion.”
He said a new agreement was reached with the people displaced by the project in January 2015, for which a 25% increase was approved by the ministerial committee on June 22, 2015.
“Diamer is a Sunni-dominated, unsettled tribal area where sectarian incidents are taking place and no other than a Sunni government employee is appointed there,” he said.
Hussain said the G-B government had declared Diamer as a division, an officer of the rank of commissioner had been posted there to supervise the land acquisition process and a dedicated team had been constituted for the project.
“One hundred per cent of the field work for private land re-verification along with computerisation of data has been completed in a record time by 50 revenue officers. The first tranche of Rs29.33 billion has also been released,” he added.
Furthermore, in order to ensure transparency, computerised record of all land acquisition is being maintained. A contract agreement has been signed with Suparco that has verified the field data of 28 mouzas.
“Special monitoring teams have saved Rs2.7 billion due to effective measurement.”
“Progress on confidence-building measures including construction of model villages, health, education, livelihood and other development programmes was slow,” the G-B chief secretary noted, saying timely release of funds was among the impediments that needed to be removed.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 11th, 2016.