Sunday, March 14, 2010

US refuses to fund Bhasha Dam project

ISLAMABAD: US will not provide funds for the construction of Bhasha Dam due to pertaining issues of environment and other complications, said US Coordinator for Civilian Assistance Ambassador Robin Raphel on Saturday.

In a special interview with a private TV Channel, she said her country will extend assistance under Kerry-Lugar Bill in sectors including energy, water, education and health in collaboration with the government of Pakistan and the NGOs. She said the US is taking stock of 19 projects relating energy, which were solicited by the government of Pakistan. Robin said Bhasha Dam project is not part the aid money as it is a giant and complicated project. There are also serious environmental issues related to Bhasha Dam project, she said.

Earlier, China and World Bank have refused to finance the project claiming that there is a dispute of land ownership in the wake of Kashmir issue as well as environmental issues and seismic sensic sensitivity.

A leading newspaper reads ''It seems that the political elite who have been exploiting Pakistan for more than six decades are again going to make a big mistake and the dam may not be materialised''. ''The reason is that the regime has for long been ignoring and undermining the rights of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan simply because they have shown strong resistance to the proposed dam for it will submerge long tracks of scarce agricultural land in Diamer District where food security has already become a major issue. Secondly, it will displace more than 80,000 people of Gilgit-Baltistan and their future status has not yet been decided. And, there is no agreement yet on compensation plans. Thirdly, the adverse implications of the dam on socio-environmental conditions of Gilgit-Baltisatn have already been acknowledged internationally. Fourthly, the construction work would draw large numbers of outsiders to Gilgit-Baltistan while under the ‘state subject rule’ outsiders are not allowed to settle in the disputed regions. Fifthly, the proposed site of the dam, according to the experts, is located in the sensitive seismic zone, and any earthquake of the scale that struck Azad Kashmir in 2005 would be disastrous for the entire region''.

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