Friday, 30 May 2008

Mangla Dam and Pakistan

Mangla Dam and Pakistan

Dr Shabir Choudhry’s speech at the UN under agenda item 5

Prevention of discrimination and indigenous peoples.

It has become habit of us Kashmiris to criticise with full force whatever India does wrong in Kashmir; and turn blind eye when Pakistan does something wrong. It is partly due to this wrong policy of Kashmiris that we are still forcibly divided and continue to suffer.

We should learn to call spade a spade, and criticise both governments on their Kashmir policies and human rights abuses in their respective parts of Kashmir. By only criticising India and by ignoring wrong doings of Pakistan we have played in to hands of Pakistani agencies who wanted to give this message that it is only Indian side of Kashmir which is disputed and Kashmiris on Pakistani side of the divide are happy with Pakistan.

The government of Pakistan built a dam known as the Mangla Dam in a disputed territory of Azad Kashmir. The construction of the dam was fiercely opposed by the local people of Mirpur, but this opposition was ruthlessly put down by Punjab Constabulary and militia; and the projected was completed in 1967.

The dam uprooted more than 20,000 families, and people were forced to leave their homes and graves of their love ones. They were told that in order to meet water and energy need of Pakistan this dam has to be built; but they were promised that they will be compensated generously for this sacrifice.

Some of the things promised to them are as follows:
· Alternative residential plots
· Compensation for loss of business
· Alternative allotments for loss of irrigational land
· Free electricity
· Free Water supply
· A railway station and a railway line connecting Mirpur with national rail network of Pakistan
· 50% quota for employment
· Royalty for the dam to be paid to Azad Kashmir government

It is unfortunate to note that most of the promises were not honoured by Pakistan. To date not a single penny has been given as a royalty, electricity people of Mirpur get is of poor quality and expensive, there is no railway line or railway station in Mirpur or anywhere in Azad Kashmir, there is inadequate supply of drinking water and still there are more than 8,000 families who did not get their allotments.

And thousands of people who got allotments in various parts of Pakistan were unable to get possession of land; and because of intimidation and discriminatory treatment of the local people and local administration, were forced to return back to Mirpur.

Mr Chairman

The above scenario should be compared with the construction of the Tarbela Dam in Pakistan which was constructed after the Mangla dam. Of course construction of this dam also uprooted families and villages, but they were properly compensated and resettled. The government of North West Frontier had a written Agreement with the WAPDA (Water And Power Development Authority), and used its power and influence to implement in letter and spirit.

Evidence of this could be seen by news release of the WAPDA issued on 27 June 2003, which reads, and I quote:

‘WAPDA, in spite of its financial limitations, discharged its full and final liability towards Net Hydel Profit to the North West Frontier Province, well ahead of the fiscal year closure date June 30, 2003….According to the details, Article 161(2) of the Constitution provides for payment of Net Hydel Profit to the provinces. The amount due to be paid to NWFP for the year 2002-03 as fixed by the Government of Pakistan comes to Rs. 6 billion.
WAPDA has been regularly paying Net Hydel Profit to the Government of NWFP in spite of its financial problems. It may be recalled that for the years 1991-92 to 2001-2002 the North West Frontier Province received an amount of Rs. 65.662 billion against the projected amount of Rs. 57.425 billion
In other words, the Province has received Rs. 8.237 billion in excess during the above mentioned period.’

Mr Chairman

WAPDA Chairman is boasting that they have paid 8.237 billion Rupees in excess to the provincial government of North West Frontier and that is a share of profit for the Tarbela dam. We have a dam in Mirpur for which not a single penny has been paid to the government of Azad Kashmir since 1967.

Income from the Mangla Dam is around 7 billion Rupees per annum, and the dam has been operational and making profit for the Pakistani authorities for past 36 years. And if we multiply then we get a figure of 252 billion, and that is what government of Pakistan owes to Azad Kashmir, but there is no hope of receiving that because Pakistani officials treat Azad Kashmiris differently and less favourably.

Mr Chairman

This situation is to be compared with the fact that planning for the Mangla dam and Kala Bagh dam started around same time in early 1950s. Both proposed constructions were opposed by the local people. Despite opposition of people of Mirpur a dam was completed in 1967; but for Kala Bagh dam despite millions spent in different studies and plans, as to date not a foundation brick is laid down due to fierce opposition from the local people and some powerful land lords.

Our opposition was put down by force; but their opposition was not put down by force but attempts have been made to offer them generous compensations. This shows how we the people of Azad Kashmir are treated differently and less favourably.

Mr Chairman

It looks that the British government of undivided India had more respect and care for the people of Kashmir. Upper Jhelum Canal was constructed in 1914; this canal before entering what is now Pakistani territory near Sarai Alamgir, runs through a Kashmiri territory.

The British Government of the time negotiated an agreement with the Maharaja government, and it had a number of benefits for the people of Kashmir, including payment of royalty of 1.7 million Rupees annually. Despite difficult times during the World Wars and recessions of 1930s, this amount was regularly paid by the Punjab government of the time to the Maharaja government every year.

After the partition of India these areas which are irrigated by the Upper Jhelum Canal became a part of Pakistan, and since that no money is being paid to the government of Azad Kashmir which Pakistan claims to be the legitimate government representing the whole of Kashmir.

Salient points of the agreement between the British Government and the Maharaja government are as follows:

1. For the Upper Jhelum Canal the Maharaja will give his land free, but it will be treated as a State territory and any land not used for the canal purposes will be returned to the State.
2. The government of Punjab will pay yearly compensation for the land affected, equal to revenue generated by this land.
3. The people of Kashmir will have right to use water free of any charge to irrigate their land.
4. The people of Kashmir will have right to construct mills or other grinding factories run by the use of water as a source of energy.
5. Government of Punjab will at their own expenses construct bridges along the rout of the canal that people of Kashmir can easily cross with their livestock and cattle carts.
6. If due to flood or other damage caused by the canal to property or crops in Kashmir, the government of Punjab will be responsible to pay compensation for that.
7. The government of Punjab will pay compensation for all buildings, property or wells affected by the canal construction.
8. Any material brought in for the construction of the canal from outside of the State, the government of Punjab will have to pay royalty on each item.
9. The State government allows the Punjab government to build different residential and other commercial buildings to facilitate the construction work, but they will have to pay for any land used for such purpose.
10. Before the start of the work a clear rout of the canal has to be finalised ensuring that place of worship of any religion is not affected.
11. And people working on the canal will respect local laws and customs, and will not bring any item for consumption which is not permitted in the State.

Mr Chairman
With passage of time all dams lose their ability to store water, but proper maintenance helps to overcome this problem. The Mangla dam had life of over

De -silting of the dams

Also Pakistani government owes millions of Rupee in rent which is due to government of Azad Kashmir for the State property situated in different parts of Pakistan. Before the Parturition of India, the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir received annual rent for his properties from the then British Indian governments, and this only stopped after Pakistani government took over these properties.

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