Pak: Protesters block Karakoram Highway, demanding compensation for Diamer Bhasha Dam as promised

Apr 25, 2024

Islamabad [Pakistan], April 25 : The people affected by the Gilgit-Baltistan's Diamer Bhasha Dam blocked the Karakoram Highway (KKH) on Wednesday in protest against Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) for failure to pay compensation promised to them for leaving their lands for the dam's construction, reported Dawn.
The protesters were demanding pending payments which entitles them to financial assistance before departure from their houses acquired for the Dasu hydropower project.
Following which, the action committee of the Diamer Bhasha Dam called the sit-in protest and blocked the KKH, stranding hundreds of vehicles on both sides of the road at the Gechi area of Chilas in GB's Diamer district.
Diamer Deputy Commissioner (DC) Captain (retd) Muhammad Arif said that the protesters blocked the road and demanded their compensation payments pending with Wapda, Dawn reported.
He further said that he held negotiations with the demonstrators and told them that he would convey their message to the Wapda chairman and other relevant officials, adding that the chairman's visit was also expected next week but the protesters did not agree.
DC Arif added that the road was opened for half an hour and stranded vehicles crossed the blockade but was blocked again as the protesters demanded the Wapda chairman to meet them at the sit-in site.
Atiullah and Muhammad Iqbal, who led the sit-in, said that they would not leave the road until their demands were met and will continue their protest.
Iqbal said that the affectees were demanding Chula payments for a long time but the administration and Wapda officials "paid no heed" to their demands.
Moreover, he said that the affectees had sacrificed their lands and in return, the government did not bother to provide the Chula payments to over 800 affectees which were promised to them in written, according to Dawn.
As they continued to protest, the tourists travelling to and from Gilgit Baltistan-Islamabad were stranded on both sides of the blocked road.
Muhammad Jamil, a passenger travelling to Hunza Gilgit, said that his children and families were stranded on the road for six hours.
Jamil added that they were able to leave after the roads were opened by the protesters, who were asked to leave immediately as the road had to be blocked again.