GILGIT: The Diamer-Bhasha Dam affected people have demanded provision of jobs to the local people in the project saying that they will not tolerate employing people from other provinces.
“It is we who are the sufferers but the jobs in our area are given to people from other provinces,” said Haji Najeebullah, a representative of the Diamer-Bhasha Action Committee on Saturday.
He asked the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) to implement the agreement signed between the people of Diamer and the government.
The reservoir would inundate 23 villages of Diamer District and displace more than 40,000 people, 6,500 houses, 4,500 acres cultivable lands, 8,000 acres uncultivable land, 60,000 fruit trees, 33,700 other trees, besides commercial areas, hotels, shops, mosques, and graveyards.
It will also endanger the region’s archaeological remains including some 50,000 rock carvings and 5,000 inscriptions.
The former military dictator General Pervez Musharraf had ordered work on the dam to start in 2007 and performed the groundbreaking of the project on April 26, 2006. He had also ordered setting up of a commission to settle the boundary and royalty issues between K-P and Gilgit-Baltistan which has not yet been done.
The Wapda chairman said recently that within a month Rs1 billion will be released as compensation for those affected by Diamer-Bhasha Dam.
In his meeting with the chief minister Gilgit-Baltistan Mehdi Shah, the Wapda Chairman Shakil Durrani, briefed him about projects being undertaken in Gilgit-Baltistan by Wapda. The projects include upgradation of hospitals in Gilgit and Skardu and construction of schools in other districts of the region.
Najeebullah said that there were a large number of skilled and unskilled labourers in Diamer District who should be given preference in jobs in the project.
“It is strange that local people are ignored and outsiders are given jobs,” said Najeebullah, asking the authorities concerned to take appropriate measures in this regard.
He said that the action committee had brought the matter to the notice of the G-B government but nothing positive came of it. He asked the government not to take them for granted.
He demanded of the government to constitute a committee to look into the issues and address them. The people of Diamer are protesting from time to time against the Wapda policy and seeking payment of compensation according to the international law.
In February this year two people were killed and four others injured when law-enforcement personnel opened fire on a protest rally in Chilas, headquarter of the southern district seeking acceptance of their demands before the beginning of work on the dam.
The people of Diamer had launched a peaceful movement in January 2010 and gave the Feb 18 deadline to the government for acceptance of their charter of demands. The demands included royalty of the dam, resolution of border dispute between Gilgit-Baltistan and the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and increase in compensation for the land taken over by the government for the project.
The firing triggered widespread protests in Chilas and people took to the streets.
The protesters burned down the offices of deputy commissioner, superintendent of police and assistant commissioner and two police checkpoints.
They also set on fire two vehicles of the Public Works Department and Agriculture Department. District administration officials said in Gilgit that paramilitary forces and contingents of police had been sent to Chilas to calm down the situation.
Courtesy: The Express Tribune