SHABQADAR: As the government seeks to revise and update the land acquisition law in wake of issues in acquiring land for mega water and power projects and in light of directives from the apex court, the district administration in Mohmand has assured dam affectees of being provided with their due royalties.
But tribesmen in Mohmand have a host of demands which they want to be fulfilled before they part with their land.
These assurances were provided to residents of the Mohmand tribal district by the Mohmand Dam Project Director Maqbool Hussain while addressing a traditional tribal jirga in Pandyali area of the tribal district on Thursday.
Hussain said that they are conducting different types of surveys about the dam and the land, which will be acquired for the purpose, to determine the loss of agricultural land and population.
After completing these surveys, he said that the tribesmen will be taken into confidence and their reservations will be addressed.
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Lower Mohmand Assistant Commissioner Tauseef Khalid disclosed that while they were assisting the dam builders, he assured tribesmen that their rights will be protected.
Earlier, tribal leader Senator Hafiz Rashid, Molvi Gulab Noor Mir Afzal Mohmand and Haji Ismail Sher had expressed their concerns over the dam’s construction.
While appreciating the need of building the dam in the larger interest of the nation, they pledged their full support to the district administration and the project.
However, they demanded that the project director should show them the map as proposed by the Supreme Court complete with the catchment areas marked so that they know to what extent their land would be affected by the construction of the dam.
Moreover, they asked how and based on what criteria would the dam’s builders pay and compensate them or rehabilitate the affected.
They also expressed concerns over the effects the construction of the dam will have on Mohmand’s mountains which are rich in precious minerals and forests and asked what alternatives were there to prevent this damage.
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Furthermore, they demanded that once the dam is built, the entire district must be provided with free power and full royalty.
Additionally, they demanded the construction of irrigation channels for Mohmand, both upstream and downstream apart from the provision of clean drinking water for the entire tribal district.
Moreover, they demanded that residents of Mohmand should be employed to build the dam and only specialist technicians who are not available locally, be brought in from outside.
Mohmand Dam is one of the two major dam projects which is directly monitored by the Chief Justice of Pakistan. The dam in Mohmand is slated to produce 800 megawatts of power apart from helping irrigate large swathes of cultivable land in Charsadda and Peshawar and provide clean drinking water to Peshawar city.
The government plans to starts work on the site at the beginning of 2019 after completing the dam surveys.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 28th, 2018.