People in Muzzafarabad are fuming. And there's little water to cool down their soaring anger.
Residents of the city in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir have accused Islamabad of diverting water from Neelum River to feed its Punjab province, leaving them - quite literally - high and dry. News agency ANI reports that the residents have complained that fresh water from the river is being channelled from the mountains to the Punjab province and this has resulted in the river drying up around their area. "We can live without electricity but how can we live without water," a local resident was quoted as saying. "The water level in the river has declined drastically and the available water is mostly sewage. We are feeling the heat because of rising temperatures."
The locals here are also protesting against the proposed construction of Neelum Jhelum Hydropower Project. They say it would completely benefit people of Pakistan and leave them without anything. "They should give us free electricity but instead, they charge four times from us. They should come up with a compensation package for our area," said another local.
The locals say they were hoping monsoon rains would re-charge Neelum River but even that has not happened.
Meanwhile, Pakistan keeps seeing a foreign conspiracy behind protests against its hydropower projects. Earlier this month, the country's caretaker minister for water resources said opposition to Kalabagh Dam is better funded in foreign countries than in Pakistan. This despite vehement protests within Pakistan itself against the project which could displace thousands as well as cause enormous environmental damage.