South Asia

Published: Saturday 31 December 2005

production stopped: The Canadian gas-exploration company Niko failed to receive government permission for producing gas after a blowout wrecked the Tengratila gas field. It began removing drilling equipment from the site amidst protests from local residents who demanded the company's pullout be stopped till their demands are met and issues of compensation for financial and environmental damages sorted. Niko officials claimed it was totally safe to produce gas from the Tengratila gas field. Though the fire was still raging at some places, the company said it would die down soon. The official , however, said Niko was open to discussion about compensation, but that would not prevent them from pursuing drilling. Niko strongly refuted allegations that the blowouts at Tengratila took place because of their incompetence. Energy adviser Mahmudur Rahman recently said Niko would not be allowed to drill gas until the compensation issue was resolved.

Pak okays dam plan: Executive Committee of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) Sindh accused the provincial government of compromising on Sindh's interests viz-a-viz the Kalabagh dam. It alleged the coalition government had given its consent for the construction of the controversial dam. The general council of the Sindh Abadgar Board also opposed the proposed dam construction. It said five times more water than the Kalabagh dam's capacity of six million acre feet could be saved by improving the irrigation system. The general council was of the opinion that the government had failed to take into consideration technical aspects, political situation, strong opposition from provincial assemblies of Sindh, the North West Frontier Province and Baluchistan, recommendations of the world commission on big dams, environmental degradation, erosion of 2.1 million acres of land by seawater and many other such factors. It further demanded that efforts should be made to store rainwater, encourage forestry in water-logging and salinity-affected areas and increase the budget for research. Meanwhile, the Sindh People's Students Federation took out a protest march against dam building.

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