MUZAFFARABAD  -   A wheel-jam protest call on January 29 has been postponed after Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider Khan assured the civil society activists that diversion of River Jhelum will not be allowed for Kohala hydroelectric power project to avoid environmental affects in and around Muzaffarabad City.

I have talked to the people in the helms of affair in the Centre who assured every support in favour of our demands about the project and I seek one month time till the end of February to get resolved the issues, otherwise, I myself will lead the save river movement,” assured Haider to Amjad Ali Khan Advocate, leader of Save river, save Muzaffarabad Committee during a joint Press conference here at Press Club on Thursday.

After the firm assurance, Raja Amjad Ali Khan Advocate announced to postponed the wheel jam protest call till the end of February, however, he said all other activities of the Committee will continue according to the schedule to aware the masses about the destructive impacts of the diversion of river.

While expressing optimism to resolve the issue amicably, Farooq Haider said that he had informed the Federal government, Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) and other concerned quarters that acute environmental, social and economic problems would arise in Muzaffarabad district due to diversion of river for Kohala project.

He said that the Federal govt on his demand had constituted a Committee to review the grievances of masses and environmental impacts of the project design which had carried out a survey of the area and will submit its report to the Federal government.

He said that after his objections, work on the project has been suspended till the decision of the govt and all the concerned quarters had assured him to support his stance on the issue assuring that the issue will be resolved amicably.

He disclosed that Chairman WAPDA Gen.(Retd) Muzzamil had acknowledged the fact that environmental impacts have been witnessed in Muzaffarabad and around after commissioning of Neelum-Jhelum power project and assured to implement mitigation measures.

He said that he had made it clear to the officials of China’s company that execute Kohala project that diversion of river will not be allowed and asked them to design the project on run of river.

“All the demands of Save River Committee are justified and I stand with them.” Haider added.

“I am not power hungry. If the demands were not met, I shall leave the power and will lead the movement to save the river as the civilisations had been established on water resource and we could not depopulate our areas,” he stated.

“The message from the protest has always been misused by our enemy as propaganda tool against Pakistan. Therefore, I contacted the leadership of (Save River Committee) to postpone the protest and give time for the resolution of problems amicably,” he stated.