ISLAMABAD    -      A Senate panel was Monday informed that so far only Rs 560 million compensation has been paid for houses to the affectees of Mirani Dam while Rs 2.94 billion for trees has yet to be paid.

Senate Standing Committee on Water Resources that met under the chairmanship of Senator Shamim Afridi noted that more than four years have passed since federal government transferred the money to the provincial government for payment to the affectees of Mirani dam but it is still parked in the account.

The mover of the discussion, on Mirani Dam, Senator Mir Kabeer Muhammad Shahi observed that the federal government has expressed very favourable response and has given full support in paying compensations. However, there is delay on the part of government of Balochistan which needs to be sorted out. He also suggested that a comparative on ground survey of prices of the produce, land, construction etc should be conducted so as to determine the correct amount of compensation to be paid to the affectees and a third party may be appointed for verification of transparent work in the whole process.

Secretary Finance Balochistan told the committee that the issue is not of money but of a streamlined process. He said that the issue is of verification of people who are the true affectees as at present there are two or three lists mentioning different people as affectees. The Committee noted that more than 4 years have passed since federal government transferred the money to the provincial government but it is still parked in the account.

The meeting was informed that Rs 560 million has been paid as compensation for houses to 1645 people and Rs 2.94 billion for trees is still to be paid. The area affected comprises of 3 union councils, 6 villages and verification of affectees is not difficult.

The Committee noted that money cannot be given away until it is mentioned in Public Sector Development Plan (PSDP) or Annual Development Plan (ADP) and money is specifically allocated for payment to affectees. The Committee asked the Balochistan Planning and Development Department to reconstitute the third party verification committee and report to the Committee.

The committee also expressed strong displeasure on the absence of Chief Secretary Balochistan in consecutive meetings of the Committee despite repeated requests to attend the meeting regarding discussion on delay in compensation to the affectees of Mirani Dam. The Committee decided to file a motion of breach of privilege against the chief secretary. Secretary Finance Balochistan told the meeting that the chief secretary has been occupied in extensive work due to budget proposal. The Committee, however, noted that the chief secretary should at least have communicated the reasons of his absence.

The Committee also discussed a matter relating to Gadwalian Dam pointed out by Senator Syed Sabir Shah. The mover pointed out that despite heavy rains last season the dam could not fill due to its design fault. Director General Small dams Khyber Pakhtunkhwa told the meeting that there is no design fault and it’s because of low intensity rains that the dam couldn’t store water. The mover and the Committee, however, were not satisfied by the reply and decided to visit the site. The mover said that the department should ponder over the mistakes they have done and allocate money for its correction.

The meeting was attended among others by Senators Dr Jehanzeb Jamaldini, Mir Kabeer Muhammad Shahi, Syed Sabir Shah, Ahmed Khan, Sana Jamali, Gianchand, Agha Shahzeb Khan Durrani, Usma Khan Kakar, Secretary Water Resources, Member Water WAPDA, Secretary Finance Balochistan, Secretary Planning and Development Balochistan, Deputy Commissioner Turbat.