ISLAMABAD - The people affected by 4,300MWs Dasu hydropower project have once again rejected the increased land acquisition rate for the project and the government is likely to further revise the land price upward.

Minister for Water Resource Faisal Vawda on Wednesday directed Senior Member Board of Revenue, government of KP, to compile his recommendation regarding new prices of land in consultation with all stakeholders within 10 days, official source told The Nation here.

The issue of land acquisition for Dasu dam was discussed in 13th meeting of Project Steering Committee of Dasu Hydropower Project. Faisal Vawda chaired the meeting whereas Chief Minister KP Mahmood Khan was the co-chair. The meeting was attended by the senior officials of the KP government, WAPDA and the federal ministries of Water Resources, Planning Development and Reform, EAD and Finance.

Main agenda of the meeting was to resolve and expedite the long-stalled process of land acquisition. In compliance of the last meeting, the SMBR of KP government presented a comprehensive report on the possible options, to expedite the land acquisition, based on the consultations with the dam affectees.

Dasu Hydropower project is located on river Indus, around 240km upstream from Tarbela dam, in the Kohistan area of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. The project is being funded by World Bank and the funds were approved in 2014. The World Bank, for the third time, extended deadline for one year for utilisation of the funds. Dasu Hydropower project will have total installed capacity of 4,320 Mega watts of electricity with 12 generating units and is among the priority projects under the National Water Policy.

The committee was informed that the residents of the areas had stopped some sub contractors busy in civil works of Dasu from working and the government had to immediately resolve the issue. WAPDA’s contractors are busy in the area in the construction of access roads, transmission lines and grid stations.

The steering committee was informed that the residents are not willing to sale their lands even at the revised rates. The minister told the meeting that assessment had been worked out after consultation with the affected people. The steering committee has proposed revision in land prices after consultation with people representatives, local politicians and notables of the project area. The steering committee has revised the land rates. Affidavits have been taken from the affected people that they will not further increase the price.

The proposed revised rate would increased the total cost of the project by 3 percent or Rs18 billion, however; with the new revision, the cost may further go up, said the source.

During the meeting, Vawda directed the project steering committee to speed up land acquisition for hydropower project and showed full support to remove all hurdles therein. He said that building of dams is among the top priorities of the current government contrary to the last 50 years where no government took this matter seriously.

The source said that the minister further told the local representative from the areas that beside land acquisition the government will also built schools, hospitals and will launch other public welfare projects. The government will spend at least Rs4 billion on the social uplift projects of the areas. 

The source said that SMBR KP was asked to submit his report not later than 10 days and the revised rates of the land to be submitted will be submitted to Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) for final approval.