by Farooq Ganderbali
Massive protests are going on in different places across Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) as people there are demanding an end to the exploitation of natural resources by Islamabad. The residents are hitting the streets to demand Pakistan to stop diverting the waters of the Neelum River to Punjab province.
Pakistan is depriving the people of Muzaffarabad from their water lifeline –Neelum River – through an elaborate scheme, which has changed the flow of the freshwater from the mountains to Punjab province and in the process drying up the River even in the middle of the monsoon season.
Protests are taking place all across Muzaffarabad against this latest move by Islamabad to take away even the most basic right from the Kashmiri people who live under its occupation. The Neelum River passing through Muzaffarabad now appears as a storm water drain filled with sewage waste after the construction of Neelum-Jhelum hydro power project.
The depleting water resources will severely impact the lives of people of PoK as the river will become dry. The residents will face acute water shortage, and everything will be destroyed. WAPDA (Water and Power Development Authority), which generates power from PoK and supply it to Pakistan’s Punjab and other provinces is the biggest exploiter of the natural resources of the PoK.
The water level in Neelum river has declined drastically and the water available is only sewage water, whereas, the actual water has been diverted towards Punjab. People can live without electricity, but not without water. And with summer approaching they are feeling heat because of rise in temperature.
The politicians in Islamabad are paying no attention on the issue. The people of PoK demand that actual flow of the river water should be maintained, otherwise they have warned to launch a protest to protect the river for their future generations. It is important for people of PoK to launch a movement which can expose Pakistan to the world. The rulers of Pakistan and PoK must know that with the diversion of waters and construction of Neelum Jhelum Hydropower Project, there are chances of spreading of diseases because of pollution.
With the production of electricity from Neelum Jhelum Hydropower Project, the people of Punjab will get all benefits. What will people of PoK get in return of Rs 50 billion they will be earning out of this project. Instead of providing free electricity to people of PoK, they have been charging four-times higher bills from them.
by Farooq Ganderbali