South Asia

Published: Monday 30 June 2008

Kalabagh aborted: Pakistan's new government has decided to shelve the controversial Kalabagh dam project "once and for all" in the name of national reconciliation. The announcement follows the government's recent plans to save energy and end load-shedding by 2009. Addressing a press conference, Power Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf said Sindh and North-West Frontier Province had passed resolutions against the dam and, therefore, its construction could endanger the federation. "For a strong and united federation, it is better to abandon the project," he added. Funds allocated for the Kalabagh dam would be spent on other water and power projects, he said.

Sri Lanka flooded: Flash floods and landslides triggered by heavy monsoon rains have killed over 20 people and forced about 300,000 from their homes in Sri Lanka, the disaster management centre said on June 3. Nine of the country's 25 districts including Colombo have been battered by the rains since May end. Officials say the monsoon rains have been heavier than normal and water levels in the Nilwala Ganga and Kuda Ganga rivers are rising. The government has pledged Rs (Lankan) 30 million as flood relief. Met officials warn the situation could exacerbate as more rainfalls are predicted in the coming days. Monsoon in Sri Lanka typically leads to significant displacement due to flooding. The problem worsens because of poor infrastructure.

Fencing Bangladesh with trees: Natural disaster-prone Bangladesh launched a project to plant 100 million trees in the coastal areas and create a "green fence". The country's military-backed government says the trees would "fight storms, tidal surges, floods and droughts" in a "natural way." Trees will be planted over the next three months during the rainy season. They will protect the low-lying coastal country from cyclones and floods that have worsened in recent years due to climate change, said deputy environment minister Raja Debashish Roy. The project aims to cover six per cent of the country.

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