UK-based Affectees Of Mangla Dam Raising To Be Paid In Britain
18 September 2007
Associated Press of Pakistan
London: Azad Kashmir Government has decided to pay compensation to the affectees of the Mangla Dam raising project living in UK through Pakistani banks operating in Britain. Speaking at a news conference at the Kashmir Centre on Monday afternoon, the Azad Kashmir Minister for Mangla Dam Affairs Chaudhry Muhammad Yousaf said this is being done to ease the difficulties of those who have since then shifted to UK and were no longer in Azad Kashmir to receive compensation. The minister along with the senior member of the Board of Revenue, Azad Kashmir, Raja Muhammad Farooq Niaz and Chaudhry Mir Afzal, Commissioner, Mangla Dam Affairs had been in UK for the past ten days visiting various towns and cities populated by the Kashmir community to assuage apprehensions among the affectees regarding the compensation. 'Following our detailed discussion with the community leaders and the affected persons, it has now been decided to compensate them in UK,' he said. Explaining further, the Minister said the affected persons will open their rupees account in Pakistan banks in UK where the compensatory payment will be deposited in their respect accounts. The Mangla Dam is being raised from its present height of 1234 feet to 1264 feet, which will increase the conservation of water by 20 per cent over its present capacity and also help to generate additional 110 megawatts of electricity. The Minister dismissed the wrong impression being created by the vested interest over the payment of compensation to the affected families and criticised the negative role of the Opposition in this regard. According to the Minister Rs 17.55 billion will be distributed among the dwellers of 118 villages, which are to be affected by the raising of the reservoir level up to 1264 feet. By July 31 this year, Rs.10.98 billion have already been disbursed among the affectees. The member of the Board of Revenue informed the newsmen of the various schemes being undertaken by the Azad Kashmir Government to resettle the families being uprooted by the expanding waters of the reservoir. Niaz said the schemes include the development of new Mirpur City and four towns, construction of public buildings, construction of Dhangali bridge, allocation of water for drinking and irrigation purposes to the new towns and the provision of water supply and sewerage facilities. He said the AJ Government has been given the fishing rights in Mangla Dam lake which were previously with Wapda. He said the Government is also getting Rs.3.05 million monthly as royalty since 2003 when it was agreed to raise the height of the dam by 30 feet from its present position. Mir Afzal said Azad Kashmir has the potential to produce 5,000 megawatts of hydel electricity and the Government has initiated several schemes to generate electricity. At present, he said, the electricity demand in Azad Kashmir was 300 megawatts. Responding to a question, he said dredging of the dam was a costly exercise and it has been estimated that it would cost Rs 290 billion to remove silt from the dam that would require a period of five years to complete. Prof. Nazir Ahmad Shawl, Executive Director, Justice Foundation Kashmir Centre, welcomed the Minister and said the JFKC plans to hold the third International Conference on Kashmir in near future. He expressed his disappointment over the failure of the international community and the United Nations to force an amicable settlement of the Kashmir issue. While welcoming the peace process between Pakistan and India and the dialogues on Kashmir, Prof. Shawl said the Kashmiri leadership on both sides of the Line of Control must be involved in the process.