Published Date: Aug 25, 2016
Inter Provincial Conflicts over Diamer Bhasha Dam
The location of Diamer Bhasha Dam is Bhasha near Diamer district of Gilgit Baltistan. Its foundation was laid in the year 2011 with the aim to be completed in 2016.However, no progress has been observed so far because of various reasons and the most important is the conflict over disputed territory between Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) and Gilgit Baltistan (GB). The project is located on Indus River, about 315 km upstream of Tarbela Dam, 165 km downstream of Gilgit and 40 km downstream of Chilas.
KPK claims an area of 8 kilometres in Kohistan will get affected due to construction of Bhasha Dam. KPK government demanded for the compensation for the potential affectees but the GB legislative assembly rejected claims of KPK government over the territory. Then Chief Minister Mehdi Shah and the Chief Secretary of Gilgit Baltistan divided one billion rupees among 214 potential affectees of Diamer area in the same year given by the Federal Government.However, the KPK legislative assembly passed a resolution in the same year for the claim over this disputed territory. The Federal Government has failed to resolve this dispute so far and deployed forces on this territory to avoid any clash on the request of Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan. But this could not resolve the issue and as a result residents of Kohistan protested for their compensation and blocked the main Karakorum Highway for several days. Disputed piece of land has no proper revenue record and needs government attention for proper implementation of the project.
To resolve this issue,the Minister for Planning Development and Reforms, Prof. Ahsan Iqbal, Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination, Mr. Riaz Pirzada;Information Minister, Mr. Pervez Rashid, the then Federal Secretary and chief secretaries of Gilgit Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa suggested forming of neutral commission so that the construction of Bhasha Dam would not be affected. Decision by the Federal Government is still pending. This issue is also very important to resolve because hydel power benefit as after completion of dam, it will also raise conflicts between the two provinces.
Diamer Bhasha Dam was supposed to be completed by the year 2016 and compensation to the potential affectees was given in year 2011 on the fixed rates of year 2009. Since the price of land and non-land assets has inflated in these years,the potential affectees are demanding compensation at the current market rates. Some 37,419 acres of land is required under this project and to dislocate such a huge population of 22,000 of 30 villages is a great challenge for the government.
To complete this project, the Federal Government needs to pay serious attention to this issue before going ahead. Since the Government has made this project as part of the second phase of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), so compensation of people of Kohistan can be included in the same. If issues of resettlement and territory are not resolved, then Pakistan will be witnessing more floods and droughts in the coming years.Hence there is a dire need for the storage reservoirs for agriculture as well as to meet the energy demands of the country.
In addition to this, the Federal Government also needs to take the Sindh nationalists into confidence as they already have lesser share ofthe Indus water and they are afraid that construction of such a huge dam will turn all areas of Sindh into a desert. Earlier in 2010, registered their protests via sit-ins. If the Council of Common Interest (CCI) does not play its effective role, then consequences like Kalabagh Dam are expected for the Diamer Bhasha Dam project as well.