Representatives of 56 villages affected by Warsak Dam on Thursday threatened to lay siege to the provincial assembly to protest against non-payment of royalties.
Speaking at the Peshawar Press Club, Khidmatgar Qaumi Jirga President Arbab Shaheryar said since the villages were affected by the dam, its residents are entitled to five per cent of the dam’s net hydel profits. However, he said the villagers, who fall in the PK-7 constituency, have not been paid the promised amount for the past decade.
Shaheryar termed the five per cent royalty as “a cruel joke” with the affected people and demanded the authorities to increase this up to 30 per cent. “If this amount is increased to a desirable limit, then that money could be used to provide basic needs like clean drinking water, irrigation and flood protection.
He also demanded provision of cheap and uninterrupted electricity and waiver of electricity bills accumulated over the past 10 years due to the royalty dispute. According to the 1959 deal, provision of electricity at discounted rates is the “basic right” of the dam-affected villagers he said. But instead, the villages are experiencing over 14 hours of electricity loadshedding, he added.
He said that the five per cent royalty, which was agreed by Akram Khan Durrani’s government in 2007, amounts to over Rs70 million and also will be used to settle outstanding electricity bills. However, he warned that if the money is used for any political activity, then the jirga will hold Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) assembly speaker Kiramatullah Khan Chagarmati responsible and lay siege to the provincial assembly.
Shaheryar said the Khidmatgar Qaumi Jirga is apolitical and only geared towards ensuring rights of the affected people. He said that the apathy of elected representatives and politicians has forced the people to field their own candidate for the PK-7 constituency. He added that if any party supported them by not opposing their candidate in the PK-7 constituency, they would unanimously support the party’s candidate for the NA-3 seat.
Jirga chief Haji Sarwar Din, General Secretary Juma Raz and other village elders were also present.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 13th, 2012.
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