QUETTA: Civil society activists, independent experts and community representatives from different districts of Balochistan have expressed their serious concern over the violation of resettlement policy by World Bank and Balochistan Irrigation Department in World Bank funded ‘Balochistan Integrated Water Resource Management & Development Project’ being implemented in Nari and Porali River basis of the province.
This concern was shown by the speakers in a ‘Peoples’ Consultative Workshop on Balochistan Integrated Water Resource Management and Development Program’ organized by Participatory Development Initiatives (PDI) in a local hotel on Tuesday. A large number of civil society activists, independent experts and community representatives from the command areas of Porali and Nari Rivers participated in the workshop.
Sikander Brohi Executive Director PDI while presenting the findings of PDI study ‘ Peoples Review of Balochistan Integrated Water Resource Management & Development Project’ informed the participants that the World Bank has also approved a six year ‘Balochistan Integrated Water Resource Management and Development Project’ in Balochistan in June 2016. Balochistan Irrigation Department (BID) is the executing agency of the Project. The project will be implemented at a total estimated cost of US$ 253.72 million with US$ 243.62 million loan from the World Bank. However, he said that the project has been initiated without proper community consultations in the project areas. He said that according to PDI Peoples Review of the project no proper village level meetings with the local communities were held by the World Bank teams. World Bank teams conducted few visits and often visited without any prior information to the villagers.
He disclosed that the infrastructure development activities of the project would need thousands of acres of community land; however, the World Bank and Balochistan Irrigation Department officials have failed designing in proper plans for providing land compensation and resettling the affected local communities. He said that it was a matter of great concern that World Bank documents related to the project carried fake records about the community consent that they would provide their land without any compensation for the infrastructure development activities. He said that PDI study teams visited all the project areas in Porali and Nari river basins and the local communities informed the PDI researchers that they have never given any consent in writing about providing land without compensation.
Meanwhile PDI study also disclosed that the community land to be affected due to the project have deliberately been shown as minimum in the project document as to avoid implementation on the resettlement policy and payment of compensation to the local communities. Although the World Bank document claim that few houses and other community infrastructure may be affected, however, the PDI study has disclosed that not only the agriculture land but even full-fledged village of the local communities would be affected as a result of the infrastructure development under the project and hundreds of the local families would be affected.
Community representatives from Lasbela Abdul Rehman, Abdul Majeed, Qadir Bux and others while speaking in the workshop disclosed that a number of villages, houses , mosques and fertile land would be affected under the World Bank project, however, the local communities are not being paid any compensation for such losses.
The Community representatives from Sibi Abdul Ghaffar Loni, Karim Khan Khajjak, Malik Ahmed Khajjak and others said that the World Bank and Balochistan Irrigation Department officials have never properly discussed the project activities with the local communities and despite passage of almost two years no physical work has been started in the Sibi component of the project. They said hundreds of acres of fertile land of the local communities would be used in the infrastructure development activities of the project and the World Bank and Balochistan government must pay compensation to the local communities for such a loss.
The local community representatives from Loralai Sardar Shafiq Tareen, Haji Dur Mohammed Tareen and others told the participants that despite community cooperation the project physical infrastructure development activities have yet not been initiated in their areas despite the passage of two years.
The civil society representatives Zahid Mengal, Farkhunda Aslam, Safia Arbab, Kamal Jan, Fatima, Ghulam Jan and others expressed their concerns community priorities have been ignored in the World Bank project and the gender issue has been completely neglected.
In the conclusion the participants of the consultative workshop demanded of the World Bank that a proper land acquisition and resettlement plan should be prepared through which the local communities whose land would be used in the project should be properly compensated and resettled. A Monitoring Committee consisting of local people should be formed and they are provided updated information about the project. In the End a joint committee of civil society activists and local community representatives was formed to take up the issue of flaws in the World Bank project with the World Bank and Balochistan government representatives.