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Tajiks In Dam Resettlement Complain Of Compensation Problems

The Roghun Dam under construction on the Vakhsh River in February 2010

The Roghun Dam under construction on the Vakhsh River in February 2010

DUSHANBE -- The coordinator of the Tajik program to resettle thousands of people from the area around the Roghun Dam project says there are problems getting the villagers full compensation for their homes, preventing them from leaving, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

Tahmina Juraeva, who works in the Tajik Human Rights Office, said the villagers' compensation for leaving their homes is not enough to build new houses in the places where they are being relocated.

She added that the relocated people are not receiving the compensation in one lump sum because the government wants to distribute it in three parts.

Davlatoy Dahmardaeva, who lives in the Sicharogh village in the Nurobod district, told RFE/RL on June 24 that they are ready to move into their new homes because they understand the importance of the Roghun Dam and hydropower plant it will supply.

But he said they do not want it to be built without them being properly compensated for the loss of their homes and communities.

Dodarjon Jobirov, an official from the Nurobod district located about 110 kilometers east of Dushanbe, told RFE/RL that every family is to receive between 130,000-200,000 somonis ($28,500-$44,000) to reimburse them for their homes and to build a new house.

Earlier this month, the World Bank director of strategy and operations in Europe and Central Asia, Theodore Ahlers, announced that the Tajik government has temporarily stopped the resettling of the villagers from the Roghun Dam area.

Ahlers said the resettlement was suspended until the results of two ongoing World Bank-commissioned studies looking into the dam's economic feasibility and its social and environmental impact are available.

The studies, expected to be completed in late 2012, will help Tajik authorities develop a proper resettlement framework based on the needs of the affected populations.

The effort to resettle people from the Roghun zone that will be flooded behind what is to become the world's tallest dam began in 2009.

A special government regulation adopted in January 2009 envisaged the moving of more than 4,700 families -- or about 30,000 people -- from 63 villages in the districts of Rogun and Nurobod to Dangara, Tursunzade, and Darband.

Official reports say 600 families were resettled from the projected reservoir area in 2009 and about 1,000 families were relocated in 2010.

These reports fail to mention, however, that many of the officially resettled families -- particularly elderly family members -- have continued to live in their native villages.

Since it began, the Roghun Dam resettlement scheme has drawn intense criticism from those being resettled, human rights organizations, and some political analysts.