GILGIT (ET): The Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly has adopted a unanimous resolution condemning Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s [K-P] claim over part of the land near the Diamer-Bhasha Dam, vowing to resist the ‘forceful occupation’.
“This forum condemns the K-P Provincial Assembly Resolution 622 which has called eight kilometres of land on the right side of the dam disputed,” said Bashir Ahmed, a lawmaker from Diamer, who tabled the resolution in the assembly chaired by Speaker Wazir Baig on Saturday.
Ahmed said that the demand being made by K-P over G-B’s land is baseless since the decision of a jirga during 1947 had declared it a part of G-B.
“We will defend our land against any forceful occupation”, he asserted.
Ahmed, the regional minister for works, said K-P’s resolution had soured ties between the two areas but added that “they didn’t want strained relations with the neighbours”. In a bid to give a ‘befitting reply’ to K-P’s resolution, the G-B assembly speaker constituted a committee including Janbaz Khan, Rehmat Khaliq and Gulbar Khan – all the sitting lawmakers from Diamer Valley – with instructions to thoroughly scrutinise K-P’s claim.
The committee, consequently, traced documents signed between the representatives of Kohistan and Diamer during 1947, which had declared the disputed land, a part of Diamer, G-B where the dam is being built on River Indus.
The dam is situated about 300 km upstream of Tarbela Dam and about 40 kilometres downstream of Chilas Town the headquarters of Diamer district of G-B.
“So the area is not at all disputed because it is essentially a part of G-B,” Ahmed said on the floor of the house.
With a storage capacity of about 8 million acre feet and projected electricity generation of 4,500 MWs, the Diamer-Bhasha Dam will top both Tarbela and Mangla dams, whose storage capacities have fallen drastically due to silting over the years. According to experts, the dam is expected to be completed in eight years and will cost over $12 billion.
Ahmed, the ex-opposition leader in the G-B assembly, underscored the need for implementing the G-B Supreme Appellate Court decision that declared 75 per cent royalty rights of the dam to G-B.
The court also ruled that the remaining 25 per cent of royalty should be settled through a boundary commission. “The federal commission should set up a boundary commission immediately,” he said, adding that since G-B did not have representation in Parliament, K-P was successfully manoeuvring things in its favour.
Janbaz Khan, the opposition leader in the G-B Assembly, dubbed K-P Assembly’s resolution a conspiracy against the dam and said the people of Gilgit could wage a fight for their land.
After listening to the legislators’ arguments, the speaker of the assembly approved the unanimous resolution.