Dasu dam dispute: Kohistan land owners threaten to block KKH

Give govt fresh ultimatum as they continue suspension of work on power project

Muhammad Sadaqat October 02, 2016
Dassu Dam afectees committee holds a meeting at the Barseen area along the Karakoram Highway in Kohistan district. PHOTO: EXPRESS

KOHISTAN: Angry land owners in Kohistan on Sunday warned that they would not allow construction of the much trumpeted Dasu Hydro Power Project (DHPP) unless their demands were met by October 12.

If their demands remain unmet at the expiration of the deadline, the land owners threatened to march on the Parliament House and block the Karakorum Highway (KKH), the only land route between China and the rest of the country.

Shamsur Rehman, a member of the Dasu Dam Action Committee (DDAC), told The Express Tribune that the decision to continue impeding work on the project and to stage the protest was taken at a meeting of their 80-member committee. The meeting was held in Barseen village on Sunday with Maulana Sabr Jameel in chair.

He added that the committee had decided to suspend work on the land survey and construction of the 9,000 kanal dam’s reservoir on July 12 after raising objections on the amount of money they were being paid for their lands.

The committee had on August 8 presented the government with a nine-point charter of demands in which they sought land settlement on the pattern and categorization in the Diamer-Bhasha Dam, compensation for structures built on land, payment for orchards on rates prevalent in Darail and Tangir valleys, hiring Kohistanis for building the project, payment on market rates for land forcibly occupied by the dam authorities among others.

But with the charter’s deadline expiring on Sunday, DDAC members have given the government a fresh ultimatum.

“We will not allow Wapda officials to carry out [land] survey or construction work in the reservoir area and block the KKH besides marching on parliament for our rights,” Maulana Jameel told The Express Tribune.

Furthermore, the committee said they had deployed eight members outside the Wapda office in Barseen to monitor movement of officials and contractors.

According to an official source, all three stakeholders in the DHPP, including the central government, provincial government and the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) have agreed to complete the acquisition of land as soon as possible and in this regard they were likely to settle with land owners in the affected area over the next couple of weeks.

The 4,320 megawatts DHPP is being built on the River Indus around seven kilometers upstream from Dasu, the district headquarters of Kohistan, at a cost of $4.5 billion.

Its first stage is scheduled to be completed by 2019 and includes six units with total installed capacity of 2,160 MW. The second stage includes installing the remaining six units and is expected be completed by 2022.

The government took a $1.1 billion loan from the World Bank to procure over 80,000 kanal of land for the dam and the government is bound to complete the acquisition by October 31.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 3rd, 2016.


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