Kashmiri group vows to stop Mangla Dam extension
11 March 2005
The News International
Islamabad: Arif Chaudhry, spokesman for the Anti-Mangla Dam Extension Committee, has said that they will use all possible means, including diplomacy, dialogue, protest, hunger strike and road closure, to stop the extension of Mangla Dam. He was responding to questions at a seminar on 'People's perspective on Mangla Dam Extension Project' organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute here on Friday. Naeem Iqbal of the Pakistan Network of Rivers, Dams and People conducted the proceedings. Arif Chaudhry said that the present unrest among people would further aggravate if no attention was given to their demands. He said that if the dam is raised, it would displace the people of Mirpur. He said that 80,000 to 85,000 people were displaced during the construction of Mangla Dam in the 1960s and some of the affected persons were still waiting payment of compensation. He said that seven promises were made, including free electricity to Mirpur at the time of the construction of the dam, but except for sending 300 people to England, no other promise was fulfilled. He said that even this was done by the British construction company to win support for the project. He said that raising the dam would lead to many socio-economic problems as it would adversely affect most of the immigrants living in England who constructed beautiful houses in Mirpur. He said Kashmiris living in England do not bury their family members in the UK but bring their dead bodies to Mirpur. He regretted that all this would be submerged in the lake. He said his organisation had presented 12 alternatives to the government but no attention was paid to them as these reduced chances of corruption. He said that the price of one kanal land in Mirpur is Rs. 2.5 million while the government allocated Rs. 50,000 per kanal in the budget. Afsar Shahid, president of the Kashmir Freedom Movement, said that it is better to take people into confidence. He said that the issue could only be solved through consensus.