Thursday June 13, 2024

Diamer-Basha Dam: KP, GB governments at loggerheads over piece of land

By Mehtab Haider
April 28, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The Khyber Pakhthunkhwa (KP) and Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) governments are at loggerheads over owning of eight acres of piece of land because this area will determine royalty for having location of power stations of multi-billion dollars Diamer-Basha Dam.

The power generation from Basha dam will determine share of royalty in favour of one of them--- either for KP or GB---- so it has become long outstanding issue between the two sides that remained unresolved for last several years.

There had been lingering dispute over eight acres of land between KP and GB authorities at time of partition.

When this dispute erupted, both sides held Jirga (reconciliation committee) at local levels and this land was handed over to KP side but in official documents the land continued to belong to GB.

Even the post office and other government buildings are still owned by the GB government. “Within this area of 8 acres, there will be power stations constructed for Basha dam so royalty out of it will be given on the basis of land ownership either to KP or GB so it has become lingering dispute between the two sides,” said the official sources.

Federal Minister for Planning Asad Umar convened an online meeting last week to iron out differences between the two sides so that the construction work for Diamer Basha Dam could be kick-started with full swing from next fiscal year. However, the sources said that the meeting failed to achieve any consensus. This scribe sent out message to Minister for Planning Asad Umar but did not get back his reply till filing of this report. The official sources said that there could be one solution that now this issue should again be left to the Jirga for decision as they had settled several years ago through peaceful settlement.

However, when official sources in KP government were contacted they said that KP chief minister asked for release of one man commission’s report and resolve this lingering dispute in accordance with its recommendations. The commission’s report is lying with PM office and the federal government has so far refused to make public this report. On other side, the GB authorities are of the view that the official buildings are still belonged to them so they would not withdraw from seeking their justified rights that this land should be considered under their ownership. It’s long outstanding issue that remained unresolved during tenure of different governments in the past.

Top Planning Commission officials when contacted said that the one man commission was established for finalising land compensation for construction of Basha dam but this commission had inserted a clause that if the compensation was not finalised within stipulated timeframe then this compensation package could be re-opened. There is need to fix responsibility that why this package could not be implemented within the stipulated timeframe. The land acquisition for Basha dam had kick-started from Rs46 billion then it escalated to Rs74 billion. Again it went up to Rs86 billion and escalated to Rs101.3 billion. The government had provided Rs86 billion for acquiring of land till June 30, 2019 and it had allocated Rs4 billion for this purpose in the current fiscal year’s Public Sector Development Program (PSDP). It is learnt that another cost escalation of land acquisition and resettlement is again on the cards as it increased up to Rs170 billion with the revision of PC-1.

The cost of Diamer Basha Dam Project Acquisition of Land and Resettlement has gone up from Rs60 billion to Rs170 billion. Originally the project for land acquisition for Bhasha dam was approved in 2008 with the cost of Rs60.051 billion, which was upward revised to 101.372 billion in 2015 and now it has been once again upward revised to Rs170,756 billion.