Month: October 2011

Gilgit-Baltistan:Resettlement and royalties

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IN Pakistan where water and other energy resources are becoming increasing- ly scarce, the creation of large-capacity dams appears a sensible idea. However, the creation of such reservoirs has been a contentious issue as in the case of the Kalabagh dam project which had to be shelved.

The most recent project to be put on course — after three decades — was the Diamer-Bhasha dam. Meanwhile, the upgrading of Mangla Dam has failed to live up to expectations, even though the main project of raising the dam`s height was completed in 2008. The sticking points tend to be squabbling among the provinces over projected revenues and the reset- tlement of and compensation for those displaced. Both Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have laid territorial claims to the Diamer-Bhasha dam, for example, while raising the height of Mangla Dam has affected 50,000 people. The issue of resettlement and compensation has not yet been addressed, leading to resistance by the affected communities against the filling of the reservoir.

It is thus welcome news that the government is considering preparing a formula for sharing royalties and resettlement costs in such a manner that the maximum benefit goes to the people displaced by the projects. Currently, no such formula exists, and these ideas are to be discussed during a US-Pakistan dialogue on reforms in the water sector and international lending, scheduled to begin on Nov 2. Reportedly, the example under study is the revenue-sharing arrangement in Brazil under which six per cent of the gross revenues are allocated to the affected areas with half the amount going to the provinces and the other half to affected municipalities. If such a formula is created, it could remove the confusion over royalties and resettlement. It has been suggested that a clause in the constitution promising the profits to the province where the relevant power station is located has complicated matters, because power generation is given precedence over issues faced by displaced persons. This charge should be carefully examined and the matter resolved at the earliest. Resistance to dams that are sorely needed in a water-scarce country will continue until clarity is achieved over how the projects are to proceed. (Dawn)

Gilgit-Baltistan:Funding from International Financial Institutions for Diamer Dam

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THE ground-breaking for the Bhasha dam project has taken place. But the Pakistani authorities have yet to get their act together and press ahead with their legitimate claims to funding from the International Financial Institutions.

A report in this newspaper yesterday indicated that against its own rules and procedures, the World Bank has been stalling over discussions on the Bhasha dam — and yet Pakistan has done little to challenge the Bank’s wrongful approach. The problem is reasonably straightforward to explain, technicalities notwithstanding: whenever a hydel project is to be built with Bank funding in disputed territory — as Gilgit-Baltistan is owing to the Kashmir dispute — a state to the dispute can have such funding stalled by demonstrating that the project would materially affect its claim to the territory.
The important point to note is that the onus is on the state objecting to the project to prove the latter would affect its territorial claims. However, in the case of Bhasha, it is believed that the Indian government has informally objected to the dam and the World Bank has ignored its own rules/burden of proof to allow the Indian objections to prevail.

Unfortunate as the Bank’s stance may be, the question that needs to be asked here in Pakistan is: why haven’t Pakistani officials pressed their very legitimate and rightful claim to seeking World Bank financing more urgently? Therein lies a key part of the answer to Pakistan’s deepening energy woes: the administrative apparatus here is too inert and suffers from a numbing lack of direction by the political leadership. It’s a tale that has been told so many times already that it hardly bears repetition. A country’s energy requirements are a key part of its national security strategy. We can take as examples China, the US and the advanced European economies. They have searched far and wide for energy supplies and pressed their national interest in every international fora. On the other hand, there is Pakistan, an increasingly water-stressed and energy-deficient country.
Bhasha is no panacea, but it could be a very important plank in Pakistan’s energy and water requirements for a generation or two.

What needs to be done is reasonably clear. Externally, Pakistan needs to push the World Bank to adhere to its own policies and not be influenced by Indian hectoring or complaints. Internally, Pakistan needs a coherent energy policy that focuses on exploiting local resources and bridging gaps by seeking energy supplies from abroad where necessary. But knowing what needs to be done and doing it are two separate matters.(Dawn)

Gilgit-Baltistan:GBLA strongly condemned resoulution passed by KPK assembly

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Gilgit—Members of Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly have strongly condemned a resolution of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly for declaring eight kilometer area of Diamer-Bhasha dam as part of KP and payment of the required compensation. A meeting of the ministers, advisors and members of the GB Assembly held here on Tuesday under the chairmanship of speaker Wazir Beg reviewed in detail the resolution of KPK Assembly and made it clear that Diamer-Bhasha dam was being build in the territory of Gilgit-Baltistan and there was no justification for payment of any compensation to KPK.

The meeting formed a five-member committee under provincial minister Bashir Ahmad Khan and comprising Haji Janbaz, Haji Gulbar, Maulana Sarwar Shah and Gul Mehra to meet the concerned officials and convey the reservations and sentiments of Gilgit-Baltistan people. The meeting termed as out of context the resolution of KP Assembly and said not a single inch of the dam was in the territory of KPK and they would not accept the right of any other province on the dam

Gilgit-Baltistan:Unemployeed youth protest for nepotism and corruption in Gilgit

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Gilgit (PT): Around 200 jobless youth protested in Gilgit city, demanding an end to corruption and nepotism at different levels of the GB government. The youth had been mobilized by GB Graduates Association (GBGA).

Speaking at the occasion, the young graduates said that the situation can deteriorate if the government does not bring an end to the corrupt practices.

“The leaders should learn from revolutions in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya”, a speaker said, referring to the on-going Arab Spring revolution that has dethroned several dynasties in the Middle East region.

The protesters blocked a road for almost three hours, chanting slogans against the government for failing to ensure transparency in hirings in Agriculture Department.

The protesters dispersed peacefully after meeting with a government official who promised to convey their demands to the higher authorities.

Gilgit-Baltistan: Government plans changes in royalty, resettlement cost formula

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ISLAMABAD (Dawn): The government is considering preparing the formulae for sharing of royalties and resettlement costs of the proposed water reservoirs, including the Diamer-Bhasha dam, in such a manner that the people displaced by the projects benefit most from them.

Although the government has yet to come up with a clear formula on how the royalties and resettlement costs should be shared by the major stakeholders (the federation and provincial governments) the authorities now plan to make the resettled people “the first beneficiaries” of the upcoming projects, according to sources.

These ideas would be deliberated upon in detail during a US-Pak strategic dialogue on water sector reforms and international lending, scheduled to begin on Nov 2 in Islamabad. Minister for Water and Power Syed Naveed Qamar and US undersecretary Maria Otero will lead their respective teams.

The federal government plans to utilise the forum of Council of Common Interests to suggest constitutional changes to the parliament for approval, the sources said.

A supra-regulatory body, replacing the existing Indus River System Authority, may have to be put in place to deal with all water-related issues, from irrigation to urban uses and from wastewater management to construction of new dams and adoption of new watering techniques, they said.

A case under study is the revenue-sharing arrangements and their implementation in Brazil — considered as a modern satisfactory model — where 6 per cent of gross revenues are allocated to the affected areas, with half going to the provinces and half to the municipalities with affected people.

Pakistan’s experience in Tarbela and Mangla resettlement and profit-sharing has been far from exemplary, although it improved of late in the case of Ghazi Barotha Hydropower Project. While tens of hundreds of the displaced persons from the sites of two dams continue to raise dissatisfaction over resettlement even after four decades, the profits arising out of Tarbela dam have benefited only Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, albeit with continued dissatisfaction in the province and increasing revenue threat to Wapda.

The policy-makers believe that a lacuna in the Constitution that promised profits to the province where power station is located has been one of the major hurdles in implementation of new mega projects because in most of the cases sacrifices of the people displaced by the projects by far outweighed the contribution of power houses.

“The benefits should be directly proportional to the sacrifices and cost-sharing,” a senior government official said, adding the provinces would also be convinced to bear investment costs in cash and kind (in terms of submerged land, displacements and investment contributions) to claim shares in profits or return on investment.

A senior government official said it was very important to ensure that local people and authorities welcome such mega projects which was possible only if there was a modern, transparent and fair approach to sharing royalties with affected provinces or regions and the local people and if there was a strong capacity for effective resettlement.

The fresh thinking has come in the wake of a “huge wish list” submitted by Islamabad to the Friends of Democratic Pakistan (FoDP) which many development lenders believed ‘was asking for too much’ and ‘if everything was a priority, nothing was a priority.’

The FoDP task force on water sector had advised the government for a rigorous attention to the sequencing of the project priorities, keep in mind the fact that current environment offered Pakistan ‘a limited political capital’ in the world capitals.

The sequencing has, therefore, been set around building of major reservoirs starting with Diamer-Bhasha at a cost of $11 billion, agricultural productivity enhancement at a cost of $1.5 billion, urban water and sanitation improvement at a cost of $1 billion, besides associated projects for flood management and improvement in knowledge base and human resource development.

Gilgit-Baltistan: Red tape and militancy major hurdle in Health Projects in GB and other areas

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Islamabad (ET):More than three-quarters of all foreign-funded projects in the health sector are facing delays, and some may be shut down altogether, threatening essential programmes designed to control diseases such as tuberculosis and AIDS.

Documents at the economic affairs division of the finance ministry, made available to The Express Tribune, show that 13 out of the 17 health projects are facing delays. Nearly all of these projects are funded by international donors, including ten by Germany.

Yet, for a variety of reasons, including bureaucratic delays, the government has not been able to utilise the funding available for these projects, many of which are meant to serve the most vulnerable segments of the population, including the militancy-hit tribal areas.

Most of the programmes are geared towards the people living in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

Of the $366.4 million available for the health sector, only about $138.7 million, or 37.8%, has been disbursed. Sometimes the issue is red tape on the part of the government, particularly in awarding contracts to vendors. Other times, the militancy gets in the way of officials being able to go over to the areas they are meant to serve, particularly in the tribal areas. Not even one project was deemed to have been satisfactorily completed.

For instance, the government received a $77.7 million subsidised loan from the World Bank for the Third Partnership for Polio Eradication project and raised another $42 million in financing for the programme in June this year. Yet Pakistan is one of only four countries in the world where polio still exists and polio cases are rapidly rising in Balochistan and Fata, raising international alarm.

A Germany-funded project, Provision of Basic Health Equipment, initiated in 2006 is going to lapse on December 30 this year but so far only 2.3% of the total cost, or $170,000, has been disbursed. Similarly, HIV/AIDS blood safety project commenced in 2006 would lapse in 2013 but no money is released against an allocation of $9.2 million.

Not all of the delays are caused by the government, however. Sometimes, the donors can be slow off the mark as well. For instance, another Germany-funded programme, the Northern Areas Health project, is also facing delays. The project agreement was signed in 2007, but has yet to even get a firm commitment of funds.

The Tuberculosis Control Programme, initiated in 2004, is likely to end in December with only 66% of the money allocated for the project actually being spent. The Health Infrastructure Project will end at the same time and has so far only received 39% of its funding. The Safe Blood Transformation Project, signed in 2009, has not received any money yet while a health care project in Fata, initiated in 2009, has got only 1.5% of its funding.

Not all may be lost, however. Officials from the World Health Organisation point out that donors can often agree to extend the dates of the projects that are facing delays.

“It should be noted that even if government agencies are not able to fully implement projects by the December deadline, donors generally agree to extend the project validity beyond this date,” said Dr Guido Sabatinelli, the WHO representative in Pakistan.

Sabatinelli, however, said that he was speaking broadly about aid projects in general.

Gilgit-Baltistan:GB legislative assembly rejected K-P’s claim over part of the structure of Diamer-Bhasha Dam

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GILGIT (ET): Existing tensions between Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) have increased over the controversy of the Diamer-Bhasha dam, with both sides claiming rights to the dam.

G-B legislative assembly members rejected K-P’s claim over part of the structure on Tuesday and decided to inform the federal government about “encroachment” through “proper channels”.

“K-P’s claim over some eight kilometres of land in Diamer is baseless and so, is rejected,” the lawmakers decided in an informal meeting chaired by the G-B legislative assembly speaker.

Members of the G-B assembly said that the K-P assembly had recently passed a resolution claiming land in Diamer. According to members, the K-P assembly also demanded equal compensation for the people of Kohistan likely to be affected by the construction of the proposed dam.

Speaker Wazir Baig formed a five-member committee belonging to lawmakers hailing from Diamer district to look into the matter, a lawmaker told The Express Tribune.

The main purpose of taking up the matter with the federal government and discussing it in a formal session of the G-B assembly was to avoid a direct confrontation with the K-P government.

Nationalist leader Nawaz Naji told the meeting in a controversial statement that historically, Kohistan, Shinaki and Chitral were also part of G-B and therefore, G-B could claim rights over these areas as well.

Gilgit-Baltistan:Modern Controlled Atmosphere (CA) facilities for potatoes in Peshawar, Quetta, Gilgit and Multan

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ISLAMABAD (APP): The annual export of potato from the country averaged about 50,000 tonnes during the past 5 years which could be boosted by focusing on the regional markets including Sri Lanka and Malaysia.

Concentrated approach is needed to enhance exports Chief Executive Officer Harvest Tradings, Ahmad Jawad said adding that the county could enhance its exports to Sri Lanka and Malaysia up to 75 percent and 50 percent respectively.

He said annual potato imports of Sri Lanka are over 60,000 tonnes and Malaysia over 100,000 tonnes while Pakistan’s share in these imports is 60 percent and 14 percent, respectively.

“The share in Sri Lanka can be increased to 75 per cent, i.e. an additional 15,000 tonnes and in case of Malaysia up to 50 per cent, i.e. an additional 43,000 tonnes,” he remarked adding markets in East Europe and Africa Regions could also be explored for enhancing exports.

Potato ranks third among food crops, after wheat and rice, and fifth in total agro products in Pakistan, Jawad said. Pakistan was one of the largest potato producing country in the world.

The total production of potatoes was about 1.8 million metric tones (MMT) in 1988-99 that increased to 2.94 MMT in 2008-09 which was the highest in the history of potato production.

Production reached 2.94 MMT in 2008-09 and 3.14 million tones in 2009-10, he said adding for the Rabi season 2010-11 the government has set potato production target of 2.64 million tones.

Total production from these crops has increased at the rate of 4 percent due to 1.9 per cent expansion in area and 2 per cent rise in yield, he added.

Jawad said that the government aims to launch a project for establish modern Controlled Atmosphere (CA) facilities in different cities of the country with total cost of Rs.2.29 billion.

The facilities would be established in Peshawar, Quetta, Gilgit Baltistan and Multan he said and informed modern CA storage facilities and advance ventilated cold storage rooms for fruits would be part of the project.

Jawad said that it is estimated that 25% fruit and vegetables are lost due to lack of provision of cold storage and with the establishment of CA facility the damages of perishable commodities could be decreased.

Storage facilities would be built in collaboration with a Chinese company through procurement of needed machinery and its installation.

The scheme would increase shelf life of agricultural products like apple and pear and according to the plan, CA rooms would be established in Peshawar, Quetta and Multan, each having 5,000 ton of storage capacity of fruits and vegetables.

He said that the project would be completed in five years 2010 to 2015 for which the government of China would provide Rs1.862 billion as grant and local component for this scheme includes Rs.366.878 million.

The advance storage facilities would be available to store about 34000 ton of fruits and vegetables per annum, while the advanced ventilated potato storage rooms would be established in Okara, Daska and Karachi having 6,000 ton of potato storage ccapacity; Jawad added.

Gilgit-Baltistan:World Bank under severe criticism for not funding Diamer-Bhasha Dam

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ISLAMABAD (Dawn): With the United States seeking a gradual increase in the water tariff to recover the full cost of its delivery both for irrigation and urban uses as part of its proposed financing for the $12 billion Diamer-Bhasha dam, the World Bank has come under severe criticism from international development lenders for not funding this ‘highest priority project’.

Informed sources told Dawn on Monday that the forthcoming strategic dialogue between the United States and Pakistan ahead of a fresh round of discussions of the water sector task force (WSTF) of the so-called Friends of Democratic Pakistan (FoDP) would focus on Islamabad’s precise plans for water sector reforms and the World Bank’s lack of interest in the Diamer-Bhasha dam project. The two events are expected early next month.

The dam has been described by both Islamabad and Washington as the highest priority project. The two sides generally agree that the project with 7 million acre feet water storage and 4,500MW power generation capacity required support from external partners – both public and private – and hence the support of the FoDP member countries was critical.

The FoDP support is likely to lead to direct bilateral financing by member states and also help Pakistan obtain financing from multilateral institutions, including the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Bank.

While the ADB has made initial commitments to extend between $2-4 billion for the project, the unwillingness of the World Bank has worried many bilateral lenders given the fact that the World Bank’s Operational Policy on disputed territories (OP 7.60) does not require a ‘no objection certificate’ from other party – India in this case as the dam site is in Gilgit-Baltistan.

According to some bilateral lenders, the operational policy of the WB required that in a case like Bhasha dam either Pakistan or the World Bank should ask the government of India to say in writing if it has any objection to the project on the grounds that such a project would prejudice the outcome of the territorial dispute.

If India raises objections in writing, the World Bank management should consider them and make an assessment about the merit of such objections. In proceeding with such projects, the World Bank documents state that it does not intend to make any judgment on the legal or other status of territories concerned or to prejudice the final determination of the parties’ claims.

On the other hand, it is generally believed that India has informally communicated its objection to Bhasha dam to the World Bank and for this reason the bank has not engaged itself in the project. Friendly lenders believe that if that is the case then the “bank management has not followed its operational policy on disputed territories”, an issue that needs to be addressed by US and other leading nations.

Interestingly, the World Bank helped India and Pakistan to sign a landmark Indus Waters Treaty in 1960 as part of the Indus Basin Development Plan which required Pakistan to build new major dams every 10 years but none has been built in 50 years.

The World Bank stance has also been found at fault in view of the fact that the 1960 treaty gives Pakistan the right to projects concerning waters of the Indus River. It may be mentioned that India helped finance the construction of the Mangla dam as part of ‘replacement works’ although the dam is located in disputed territory – Azad Kashmir.

Also, India has constructed and continues to construct a large number of dams in the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir and has not sought, nor received, non-objections from Pakistan. In fact, India has formally urged Pakistan to build storage dams on the Indus.

Informed sources said the US was supportive of the project, along with project financing, because of the fact that the dam would have enormous benefits – from energy, food and irrigation security to poverty reduction and environmental contribution and flood protection. It agrees that the Colorado and Murry Darling could store 1000 days of average river flows whereas Pakistan’s Indus project that can store only 30 days of flows and the Three Gorges Dam in China reduces the peak of the 50-year flood by 40 per cent against Tarbela’s negligible flood impact.

But before making any formal financial commitment, the US wants Pakistan to commit prioritising investments in on-farm water management in provinces and institutionalise full cost recovery of water distribution for better service delivery through fresh contracts with consumers – provinces, municipalities, farmer associations – for gradual increase of tariffs to sustain maintenance of water infrastructure.

Gilgit-Baltistan:GBLA passes 22 Laws in 2 years

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Gilgit (ET):The Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) Legislative Assembly has passed legislation on 22 subjects over two years and six bills are in the process of legislation, deputy speaker Jamil Ahmed G-B said  while briefing journalists on Monday.

He added that the performance of this assembly is far better than the one which served under the General (retd) Pervez Musharraf government. “We have made marvellous legislative progress in a very brief period,” he said.

Ahmed criticised previous G-B governments, saying that lawmakers spent money on irrational projects, resulting in the loss of resources and time. “When we came to power in 2009, we had several incomplete projects on which we had to spend large sums of money,” he said, adding that the Attabad disaster, followed by the floods in 2010, wrecked havoc on the region’s economy.

About G-B’s constitutional status, Ahmed said that it is not a constitutional province but an administrative setup, carved out under the Empowerment and Self Rule Order 2009, to honour the demands of local people for self-rule. “If you ask me, I will say that G-B is geographically more important for Pakistan than Azad Jammu and Kashmir because of its location,” he said, adding that the establishment of the G-B Council was meant to keep the region connected with the Kashmir issue.

Ahmed also said that the region will have to pay taxes if it wants to be self-sustaining. He said that while taxes will not be levied on poor people, the corporate sector and those earning more than Rs 50,000 per month will be liable to pay. However he clarified that the matter has been deferred until G-B’s constitutional status is resolved, adding that the maintenance of law and order is the government’s top priority.