Land compensation: government decides to alter PC-1 of Diamer-Bhasha dam

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Diamer Basha Dam site

Diamer Basha Dam site

The Federal government has reportedly decided to alter PC-I of Diamer-Bhasha dam slightly and ensure payment of land compensation to the stakeholders in the light of an agreement signed on February, 2010, official sources told Business Recorder. The federal government had allocated Rs 32 billion under Public Sector Development Programme for the year 2016-17 for construction of Diamer-Bhasha Dam. Upon completion of the Diamer-Bhasha dam, Pakistan’s existing 30-day water storage capacity would reach 90 days.

Diamir-Bhasha Dam is one of the most important energy projects in the country as it would not only generate 4,500 MW of electricity but would also serve as a huge water reservoir for the country The cost of the project has touched $12 billion and it is difficult for any country or lending agency to finance the project single-handedly. The sources said that the government of Gilgit Baltistan has revealed that the land acquisition process for Diamer Basha Dam is in its final phase which will be completed soon. In the meanwhile, land acquisition collector Diamer Basha Dam has sought some clarifications regarding compensation rates of barren land of Chilas being acquired for Diamer Basha dam project. In order to resolve the issue, Chief Minister, Gilgit-Baltistan requested the Minister for Kashmir Affairs’ intervention. In response to his request a series of meetings was held in the Ministry. The final meeting in this regard was held on May 4, 2016.

The rates of land compensation for Diamer Basha Dam were fixed after marathon negotiations with the dam affectees in 2010. To give a formal shape to the negotiations an agreement between the affectees of the project and the representatives of the GoP on February 26, 2010 was reached clearly mentioning the categories of land and mutually agreed compensation rates.

In the agreement, compensation rates of barren land of Chilas circle were fixed @ 250,000 per Kanal. Based on this agreement, categories of the land were mentioned in the documents. In the documents, mentioning Chilas the word Chilas (Muncipal area) were added. However, the area acquired was correctly depicted as 28856 Kanals at the rate of Rs 250,000 per Kanal which is the exact measurement of barren land being acquired for the dam in the Chilas circle.

During the meeting of the ministerial committee, the Chief Secretart GB apprised that for resolution of compensation issues, the agreement signed in February 26, 2010 is binding on the signatories and contains different rates of compensation for different areas of District Chilas. The contents of the agreement were approved by the ministerial committee in its meeting held on March 10, 2010. The documents contained the words “Chilas Municipal area” instead of Chilas. It was in consonance with the contents of the agreement as there was no mention of Chilas Municipal in the signed agreement. The Chief Secretary pointed out that the words “Chilas Municipal” seem to have been inserted erroneously. He maintained that the words “Municipal areas” with Chilas may be ignored as the addition or deletion of “Chilas Municipal area” will not make any difference with respect to rates of compensation already agreed between the stakeholders in accordance with the agreement.

The Chief Secretary Gilgit-Baltistan further stated that government GB is bound to proceed according to the agreement with the locals and any departure from the contents of the agreement is likely to create an alarming situation. He opined that the word will not create any problem, since GB government has already completed almost 90 per cent of land acquisition as per the agreement.

Secretary Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan apprised the ministerial committee in its meeting that since words “Chilas Municipal area” form part of the minutes of the ministerial committee’s meetings held on March 10, 2010 and the summaries submitted to the Prime Minister and ECC of the Cabinet hence the Prime Minister has to be informed of the factual position.

The source said various proposals were discussed in the meetings. In response to a proposal from Chairman Wapda, it was agreed that a summary should be submitted to the Prime Minister apprising him of the factual position with regard to the issue. According to sources, since adequate allocation of funds has been provided in the PC-I and made available to the government of GB, it may be allowed to make the payment to the land owners/stakeholders as per the provisions of the agreement signed between the government of Gilgit-Baltistan and the tribes. A necessary correction in the PC-I could be made after submitting the factual position to ECNEC. The ministerial committee endorsed the proposal put forth by the Chairman Wapda. It was, however, agreed that summary for the Prime Minister will be routed through the Law Division for examining the legal implications of the proposal.

Accordingly, a summary prepared on May 30, 2016 was submitted to the Prime Minister for his approval. Prime Minister’s office in a letter of August 8, 2016, confirmed that Prime Minister has seen and observed that vide orders of May 18, 2010, and the then Prime Minister directed that the matter be placed before the ECC of the Cabinet after obtaining views of Ministries of Finance and Law. The ECC, in turn, on June 29, 2010 approved the recommendations of the ministerial committee, which implies any change or clarification with regards to the decision of the ECC has also to be placed before the same forum rather than the Prime Minister on a summary.

Ministry of Kashmir Affairs has proposed that in the light of the recommendations of inter-ministerial committee and the spirit of the agreement, the government of Gilgit-Baltistan should be allowed to proceed ahead with the payment of land compensation to the stakeholders in the light of the agreement signed in February, 2010. The Ministry further suggested that the executing agency may also be directed to make necessary correction in the PC-I, the sources concluded.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2016

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Gilgit Baltistan

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