CHITRAL, Oct 5: The construction of a hydro powerhouse through funds provided by the KP government at the site of an old powerhouse in the Yurjogh village of Garam Chashma has hit snags besides pitching the local community against the executing organization.
Residents of the area told ChitralToday that in 1995 the community of the Yurjogh cluster, consisting of eight local organizations, established a 50 KV micro-power station on a self-help basis with the technical support of the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP).
In 2012, a new 160 KV hydropower project was set up at Thonik near the Yurjogh village by the community of the Yurjogh cluster. The old project site at Yurjogh, however, remained a cluster property, according to the members of the cluster who did not want to be named.
Now under the funds provided by the provincial government, the AKRSP is planning to establish another powerhouse in the area which would also cater to nearby villages such as Sanik lower (19 houses) and Gholachu (28 houses).
But the dispute erupted when, according to the cluster members, some individuals of the cluster, including the person on whose land the first powerhouse was built, joined hands with the AKRSP, GADO and PEDO (two local organizations) to set up the new powerhouse at the site of the old powerhouse without the consent of the cluster members.
And strangely, without physically visiting the area and informing the cluster members, the old powerhouse was demolished to make room for the establishment of the new one, said the cluster members.
The cluster representatives said they approached the organizations not to go ahead with the project without taking the community on board but the AKRSP and GADO did not pay any heed to their requests. They said due to the partial approach of the executing agencies, the local community felt perturbed and there was also fears of a law and order situation.
As a result, an application was filed with the local police station but without any result.
The community representatives said now they were left with no other option but to approach the court of law to get the issue resolved. They said the officials of AKRSP, GADO and PEDO had showed open partiality and cannot be trusted by the community any longer.
They also said without consensus and taking the cluster members into confidence, the organizations would never be allowed to start work on the project because the site belonged to the cluster as a whole.
The residents alleged that the AKRSP took the decision in connivance with a few people of the area, including the operator of the powerhouse.
The old powerhouse was built by the residents of the villages consisting of about 330 houses but it was demolished to construct a new powerhouse without taking them on board.
The residents said the demolition of the powerhouse by the AKRSP and the local support organization was illegal and unacceptable.
They called upon the high-ups of the AKRSP to take notice of the issue and resolve it amicably.