Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Diamer-Bhasha Dam: KP to take boundary dispute to apex court

The back-and-forth between Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit-Baltistan continued, as K-P decided to take the Diamer-Bhasha Dam boundary dispute to the Supreme Court on Monday.

The move comes after the G-B Legislative Assembly passed a unanimous resolution against K-P’s claim over part of the dam last month, sources said.

“The decision to take recourse to the Supreme Court was taken by the K-P government after the G-B assembly passed a resolution last month rejecting K-P’s claim over part of the land near the dam,” sources said.

Terming G-B’s resolution ‘meaningless’, the K-P government noted that G-B was exceeding its limits by rejecting K-P’s claim since at least eight kilometres of the land near the 4,500-MW dam belonged to K-P.

“The issue was referred to the 1955 Boundary Commission that clearly declares the eight kilometres of land part of K-P,” said the sources, adding that former president Pervez Musharraf arbitrarily attributed the land to G-B, triggering an unending crisis that has soured ties between the two regions.

Earlier, the K-P assembly passed Resolution No 622 which claimed that eight kilometres of land on the right side of the Diamer-Bhasha Dam was part of K-P. The move infuriated the political leadership of G-B and in a ‘befitting reply’ to K-P’s resolution, G-B constituted a committee including all the sitting lawmakers from the Diamer Valley. The committee, however, traced documents signed between the representatives of Kohistan and Diamer during 1947, which had declared the land part of Diamer.

Bashir Ahmed, the chairman of the committee who presented the resolution in the G-B Legislative Assembly, emphasised 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 royalty should be settled through the Boundary Commission.

“The federal commission should set up a boundary commission immediately,” said the chairman of the committee, adding that since G-B did not have representation in parliament, therefore, K-P was successfully manoeuvring things in its favour.

According to sources, another interesting development surfaced recently. Reportedly, the K-P government besides moving the SC has also written a letter to Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani saying that since the eight km of land belonged to K-P, therefore, 50 per cent of the royalty of the dam should also be given to the province.

The Diamer-Bhasha Dam – a project due to which approximately 22,000 people in 30 villages of Diamer are likely to be displaced – is being built on River Indus, about 300 km upstream of Tarbela Dam and about 40 kilometres downstream of Chilas Town, the headquarters of the Diamer district of G-B.

With a storage capacity of about eight million acre feet and projected electricity generation of 4,500MWs, 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. Express Tribune, 06-12-2011

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