Muzaffarabad (Pakistan-occupied Kashmir): The people of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) continue to protest against Pakistan's exploitation of Kashmir's water resources.
Recently, the Awami Action Forum, political parties and people of Muzaffarabad staged a protest demonstration against the Kohala Hydropower project in PoK. They blocked the Muzaffarabad-Rawalpindi highway and raised slogans against the government.
The protesters demanded that the project should not commence without taking people into confidence.
Raza Mumtaz Khan of the Awami Action Committee said, "The Chinese company has not done any agreement with the Awami Action Forum and has not worked out to remove people's apprehensions over the project. The water resources of the area including Durbangarh and Narolla have dried up."
The China Three Gorges Corporation (CTGC), the state-owned hydropower developer, won the right in January 2015 to develop the Kohala Hydropower Project.
The 1100 MW project is CTGC's largest investment in Pakistan, which is slated to be completed in 2021.
Construction of dams and hydropower projects in PoK has raised serious environmental concerns. Also, a large number of indigenous people have been displaced due to construction work at various sites.
People in PoK have been opposing these hydropower projects constructed by the Chinese companies as they are denied all rights including electricity and jobs.
Recently, over a hundred Kashmiri workers engaged at Neelum Jhelum Hydro Electric Project in were sacked by CGG-CMEC, a Chinese consortium.
Sacked employees carried out a massive protest against the consortium, demanding their jobs back or compensation in lieu of not being employed.
On July 7, 2007, the CGGC-CMEC (Gezhouba Gourp and China National Machinery Import and Export Corporation) was given a contract to construct the dam and power station in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, a disputed territory of the erstwhile princely state of Jammu and Kashmir.
The workers allege that they were sacked despite having a stay order from the court.
Despite all opposition, Pakistan has decided to build a new hydropower project of over700 megawatts in PoK through foreign financing at an estimated cost of USD 1.51 billion by 2022.
The Azad Pattan Hydropower Project (APHP) is a run of river scheme located on the Jhelum River in the Sudhanoti district of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and about 90 kilometres from Islamabad, Pakistani media reported.
The project would be completed by 2022 for which the authorities have sought an import tariff at Rs 8.05 per kilowatts.