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MITHI, Oct 30: The draft Thar coal resettlement policy framework is incomplete and flawed and does not depict the seriousness of related issues, said the speakers at a dialogue over the issue at the local press club on Wednesday.

Organised by the Maroo Ara Coordination Council, a network of 40 local and national citizens working for the development of the Thar Desert, the speakers said that the resettlement population falling in the Thar area should get land on lease from the indigenous people. Moreover, they said, there were no plans about lucrative ventures for sustainable development of the area. According to them, there should also be an inventory damages record and then the required policy be formulated.

The provincial government and elected representatives from Thar should take timely notice to save future of Thar, urged the civil society representatives of Tharparkar at the dialogue. The speakers said at the end of the Thar Coal project the land must be restored and handed over back to its owners in the same condition as it was over taken by the project people.

Researcher and social worker Ali Akbar Rahimoon said that out of a total area of 19,638 square per kilometre the coal specific area was 9,100 sq/km and nearly 50 per cent of the geographical area as well as more than 0.7 million people and 2.2 million livestock would be replaced in the result of open-pit coal mining of Thar which would be a catastrophe.

According to environmentalist Ashok Majrooh, several different projects have been envisaged relating to Thar Coalfield that include lignite mining, coal gasification, open-pit mining, coal bed methane extraction, development generation, transmission and associated infrastructure would cause hazardous gas levels of emissions and deterioration of water fossils. “All these aspects have not been properly addressed in the proposed resettlement policy framework,” he remarked. He also added that in the entire process of the draft resettlement policy framework at no stage the wildlife and forest departments as well as environmental organisations had been consulted.

Social worker Gautam Rathi said that the draft resettlement policy framework was apparently designed to guide the process for land acquisition, compensation and resettlement but in the proposed policy the proposed resettlement would be done on a project-to-project basis. All concerned must take notice of the gaps in the draft, he said.