Chashma-affected peoples stage hunger strike

People affected by the Chashma Right Bank Irrigation Project protest in front of the ADB’s Islamabad office against lack of consultation on the Draft Action Plan’s finalization.

On February 15, ten persons among the affected communities of the ADB-funded Chashma Right Bank Irrigation Project staged a one-day hunger strike in front of the ADB office in Islamabad, Pakistan. The affected communities have requested, to no avail, that they be part of the deliberations of finalizing the Action Plan that will offer material redress to the affected communities, and have decided to stage a hunger strike as a final mode of protest.

After more than six hours into the hunger strike, Mr. Marshuk Ali Shah, the country director of ADB in Pakistan, finally decided to receive the people’s resolution and listen to their message. Mr. Shah said that the ADB would attend the Lok Sath to be held on March 20, 2005 in order to hear the grievances of the affected communities, but also said that the affected peoples should accept the middle ground and make a compromise.

At the strike’s onset, police came and asked the affected peoples to end their hunger strike or face arrest. Faced with the people’s determination to pursue the hunger strike, the police allowed them to continue, amidst the continuous rainfall.

A campaign of non-violent and peaceful civil disobedience in the form of refusing to pay the irrigation tax will be initiated with immediate effect at the Lok Sath, if the ADB does not participate in the said event.