GILGIT: People from various parts of Baltistan held a protest in Skardu on Thursday to urge the government to rename the proposed Bunji Dam hydropower project.
Protesters demanded the project be renamed ‘Bunji-Rundu Dam’ as a large number of people from Rundu area of Baltistan will be displaced once construction work begins.
More importantly, the dam includes a large part of Rundu area and its name should reflect this, they added.
According to the protesters, the change of name will ensure the sacrifices of the Rundu communities are not forgotten and they are not deprived of their rights.
Speaking about the environmental impact of the project, they said the dam will submerge nearly 50 kilometres of land in Rundu and displace over 28,000 people.
The protesters threatened to obstruct the construction of the dam if their demands are not met.
When it was first proposed, the Bunji power project was expected to be completed within six years at an estimated cost of Rs12 billion. A survey conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency in August 2013 claimed the lower part of Shangus area would be submerged because of the project. However, the survey confirmed displacement will be far less compared to that feared in the Diamer-Bhasha hydropower project.
Nevertheless, residents voiced concerns that the construction of the dam will affect their livelihood. They also insisted that the existing survey did not reflect everything at stake and demanded it be conducted once again.
Gilgit police on Friday arrested a man who allegedly murdered his colleague at a car service station a day earlier.
Police officials informed The Express Tribune that Sajid had gunned down Muhammad Sadoor, a resident of Chamogarh area, on Thursday while they were working at a service station on Colonel Ehsan Road. The deceased had been shot in the head with a 9mm pistol.
A police team, led by sub-inspector Ali Zaman, raided Sajid’s house in Chaprote, Nagar at 5am and took him into custody.
Police officials have ruled out any sectarian motive in the killing, saying that the murder has nothing to do with the wave of violence which has gripped Gilgit-Baltistan in recent years.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 3rd, 2014.
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