Baglihar dam displaced yet to be rehabilitated

September 22nd, 2008 - 1:57 pm ICT by ANI  

By Tahir Nadeem Khan
Doda, Sept 21 (ANI): With just a month is left for the commissioning of the first 150-mw unit of the Baglihar hydropower project in Jammu, residents in the dam’’s catchment area complained that they were yet to be rehabilitated. However, officials refuted their claim.
The 450-megawatt Baglihar dam is being built on the Chenab river, which flows from Kashmir into Pakistan.
Over 15,000 families have to be rehabilitated before the dam is commissioned. People living in a 60-kilometre radius of the dam have to be relocated. But, many said they were yet to receive compensation for their land, which would be submerged.
“Officials said that they would give us either land or money. But they have neither given us the money or land. We do not have money to buy land anywhere and shift. They said that you stay here and nobody would destroy your home but, my home has been destroyed now and I have no place to go, nothing to eat,” said Shah Mohammad, a resident of Doda region.
But, officials refuted this, saying 80 percent of compensation was already disbursed.
Syed Sharif -Ud- Din, Deputy Commissioner of Doda said the remaining amount would be given once the relocated people produced certificates authenticating purchase of land.
“They are shifting from there. We are giving them eighty percent of the compensation so that people evacuate that place. Twenty percent of the compensation is given after the person hands over the possession certificate to the concerned authorities,” said Sharif.
The decision of the 335 million dollar project is a bone of contention between India and Pakistan.
A World Bank-appointed expert in February this year delivered his report on the construction of the dam to the Governments of India and Pakistan.
Islamabad has objected to Baglihar dam’’s design saying it violates a 1960 World Bank-brokered water-sharing treaty. India has rejected the charge.
Pakistan is dependent on rivers flowing from Kashmir for its hydropower and irrigation needs.
In 2005, Raymond Lafitte, a professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, was given the task of bridging differences over the Baglihar Dam and both sides had said that they would comply with his findings.
In February, both countries claimed that his report — which was not made public — largely backed their stand.
Among the contentious issues, Pakistan said the study called for the dam’’s height to be lowered by 1.5 metres, to which India responded that it had agreed to this before Lafitte took up his post.
The Indus Waters Treaty of 1960 divided the Indus river — into which the Chenab flows — between the two countries and bars India from interfering with the flow into Pakistan while allowing it to generate electricity.
India has the largest number of dams after US and China and ranks fifth in hydropower generation. India has an estimated potential of generating about 15,000 Megawatts of power from the small hydropower projects. (ANI)

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