Neelum-Jhelum project: PM AJK express concerns over change in direction of water flow

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Azad Jammu and Kashmir Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider Khan on Thursday expressed reservations over change in the design of Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Project. The AJK prime minister said change in design will put thousands of lives in Muzaffarabad at risk. He said this while addressing a press conference in Islamabad.

Raja Farooq Haider also appealed to the people from all walks of life to support him so that an acceptable solution to this grave problem can be sought. Talking about of the Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Project, the AJK premier said that all possible measures will be taken to convert this mega project into an environmental friendly and pollution free project.

The foreign minister had assured him that he will hold meeting with the leadership of all political parties in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and will take them into confidence so that Pakistan can convey its stance on Kashmir.

Farooq Haider claimed that the hydropower project meets all standards of recent requirements. He emphasized that change in the project design would be a risky business, hoping that we will be able to resolve the issue with the support of the government of Pakistan.  He said that he will take up the matter with Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan.

However, he hoped that the prime minister and other institutions in Islamabad will not disappoint him. He said that Pakistan has always facilitated the people of Azad Jammu and Kashmir on all matters and this time too, its prime minister will not disappoint him and will present a solution, acceptable to all stakeholders.

Read more: Deadlock in Pakistan-India water talks

The AJK prime minister further said no matter which political party was in power, prime ministers’ support was with AJK people. He, however, appreciated the people of Azad Jammu and Kashmir for their sacrifices for the sovereignty of Pakistan.

According to details, three lakes have been built on the Neelum River. The lakes were constructed at the cost of Rs8 billion. In order to maintain the river water clean, water treatment plants will be installed on this river between Patkhia and Muzaffarabad.

The AJK prime minister said change in design will put thousands of lives in Muzaffarabad at risk. He said this while addressing a press conference in Islamabad.

He maintained that without installation of water treatment plants, the dream of making this project environmental friendly and pollution free would not be possible. He said WAPDA will provide funds for the installations of water treatment plants.

Farooq Haider also appealed to the people of AJK, political parties and their leaders, youth, social activists, civil society and traders’ unions’ to throw their strong support behind the issue so that human risk can be reduced. He was concerned that such issues can be supportive to anti-state elements. He said, “Pakistan is our lawyer in the freedom battle against India.”

Read more: World Bank doesn’t want Pakistan to pursue the Kishanganga Dam dispute

The project will be completed with the cost of Rs. 5 trillion. Regarding compensation money, he said more than Rs1 billion have been paid to the affectees of this project, adding Rs3 billion more have been allocated for them in the budget. Farooq  Haider said Nosehri Dam is currently releasing 9 cubic water whereas minimum 15 cubic water is required to release water from Makri plant.

On a question, he said that he had held a meeting with Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi to inform him about the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir. He further said he had brought into the notice of Qureshi the recent report of human rights organization over inhuman action of Indian forces in Jammu and Kashmir.

The foreign minister had assured him that he will hold meeting with the leadership of all political parties in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and will take them into confidence so that Pakistan can convey its stance on Kashmir. He said Qureshi assured Pakistan’s moral, political and diplomatic support to the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

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