Dams affectees: NA body seeks compensation records from WAPDA

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ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly Standing Committee on Human Rights on Tuesday directed the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) to present a complete record of compensation granted to people affected by the country’s dam projects, so far.

Chairing a meeting of a committee held on Tuesday, Member National Assembly Babar Nawaz Khan said that the next meeting would be held on July 28, in which WAPDA officials would produce complete attested documents of land provided to the displaced persons, jobs given to the affected population and the provision of electricity relief to people.

The direction was issued in response to a presentation made by the delegation of Tarbela and Warsak dam-affected people before the committee members claiming that majority of the people were still deprived of any compensation grant WAPDA agreed to pay.

It was shared that 82,000 acres of land was acquired for the construction of Tarbela Dam Project and over 96,000 people from 120 villages were displaced. The affected people said that the towns constructed to resettle them were deprived of basic facilities as promised under the resettlement policy.

A representative of the affected people, Ejaz Khan briefed the committee that 84,000-acre land was acquired by the government for Tarbela Dam and only 30,000-acre land had been allotted to the affected in Punjab, whereas no land had been allotted in Sindh province as per the resettlement plan.

He said a large number of affected people were living in miserable conditions as they had lost their land and livelihood and had not been given any compensation even.

He recommended the government to make a policy framework for people displaced as a result of development work.

Ejaz further said that “land shall not be acquired by force and the displaced population should be settled in the nearby areas.”

While presenting the ordeal of Warsak Dam’s affected people, Arbab Sheryar Khan said there was no policy enforced in the country to rehabilitate the affectees.

He observed the government signed an agreement that it would provide electricity and jobs to the affected families but the promise was never fulfilled.

The committee members expressed concern over the situation. The WAPDA officials, on the other hand, said that they followed the government orders in both cases and best efforts were made to avoid rights violations.

Earlier, a presentation was made by the representatives of Pakistan Institute for Parliamentary Services on the proposed National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights.

The committee was apprised that the National Action Plan (NAP) for Human Rights dealt with links between business and human rights of the citizens, an issue that had been endorsed by the United Nations.

Representatives of a research organisation working on the project said that the NAP should be implemented through the “Protect, Respect and Remedy” framework.

The National Assembly Standing Committee members decided to hold a separate meeting to discuss the respective proposal in detail.