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SHANGLA: A jirga in Bisham tehsil on Monday threatened to halt work on the Khan Khwar hydropower project and block the Karakoram Highway if Wapda did not pay compensation within two weeks to the people whose farmland had been turned barren after the river water was diverted to the dam.

The jirga members informed the deputy commissioner Fayaz Khan Sherpao, who was also in attendance, about their issues.

The participants included Humayoun Khan, Haji Rahim Shah, district councillor Shang Sherin Zada Khan, Wasi Shah, Ijaz Ahmed Kamal, Haji Asfandyar, trade union president Hamid ur Rehman and others.

“Local revenue officials had given the details of the landowners about payment of compensation to Wapda, but since the file was given to chief engineer of hydropower project, we have not received any news from Wapda,” elder Humayoun Khan lamented.

He claimed that affected people of neighbouring Allai, Pattan and Dasu projects had received compensation, but not the Khan Khwar project-hit people despite its completion in 2012.

Another elder Rahim Shah said they had lost their water mills, mini power stations and farmlands as river water had been diverted to the dam.

“We plan to halt work on the project because Wapda is not bothered to pay us compensation,” said district councillor Sherin Zada. He said the fasting month was on head, but Pesco was observing loadshedding of up to 10 hours, while low voltage was also troubling them.

The councillor said a 132KW grid station had been completed but National Highway Authority had barred Pesco from erecting electricity poles.

Another elder also complained about public health department for not repairing damaged water supply lines and poor distribution of water.

DC Fayaz Sherpao contacted the relevant departments on the occasion, including NHA director and Wapda chief engineer, and asked them to sort out the Bisham residents’ issues as soon as possible.

He said NHA had assured him that Pesco construction department would be allowed to continue its work after fulfilling legal formalities.

He said the Wapda chief engineer would report to him about payment of compensation to the landowners.

The DC also ordered filling five vacant posts in Bisham tehsil office. Mr Sherpao asked the executive engineer of public health engineering department to fix the Bisham city’s water supply lines.

Published in Dawn, March 19th, 2019