For the second time, Pakistan has put off the inauguration of the controversial us $6.5 billion Diamer-Bhasha dam over river Indus. To be located in Diamer district of Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir, the dam has been strongly opposed by the local people and even India.
Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf was originally scheduled to lay the foundation stone of the dam in February, but the event was postponed to March 16, 2006. However, it could not be held again, with officials saying the cancellation was "due to inclement weather". No new date has been given.
India had taken exception to Pakistan's moves to construct the dam in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, which is an integral part of India by virtue of its accession to it in 1947", according to an Indian government spokesperson. He added that the dam would also inundate large areas in northern Jammu & Kashmir .
But Pakistan foreign office spokesperson Tasinim Aslam denied that the postponement had anything to do with the objections raised by India. "We have rejected their (India's) demarche," Aslam said.
Meanwhile, the All Parties National Alliance (apna), a conglomerate of 23 parties and individuals from Pakistan-administered Kashmir, has condemned the government decision to construct the dam. At a meeting in March, apna members said the project would displace about 40,000 people whose lands and homes together with the ancient town of Chilas would be submerged. Basic international standards on issues like resettlement have not been followed. Nor was an environmental impact assessment made, the party members added.
"The construction of Bhasha dam without the consent of the local people and other stakeholders is another extension of the authoritarian rule," said apna secretary-general Ghulam Abbas.
The meeting demanded un intervention and the adoption of international standards on human rights and evaluation of environmental impact.
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