KARACHI: Protesting the construction of a wastewater reservoir under the Thar Coal Project Block II on a 2,700-acre land in Islamkot taluka, a group of Tharparkar residents demanded that the reservoir be moved to another location under the Thar Coal Project’s proposed development blocks.

Sitting on the pavement outside the Karachi Press Club on Monday, Advocate Leela Ram and his companions from Gorano village in Islamkot said they “do not represent a political party or any other organisation, but we are speaking on behalf of the 15,000 residents of 12 villages.

“They will face the impact of the hazardous water of the reservoir, which is being built without permission of the residents.”

Advocate Leela said: “Gorano and the surrounding 12 villages located some 45 kilometres away from the Sihiri Dars site in Islamkot do not come under the Thar Coal Project Block II. Work on the project’s block II has been under way for the past two years.”

He said: “We cannot accommodate the reservoir, as it will affect our livestock, graveyards, mosques and temples. Water in the reservoir is saline that will impact the land, and to accommodate it, around 1,200 trees have been chopped down. Most of the grassland, where our livestock graze, has been encroached upon.”

Gorano and surrounding villages had a diverse population which demanded shifting of the construction of the reservoir to an area that came under project’s block II.

Advocate Leela had recently filed a petition in the Hyderabad High Court followed by a 17-day protest outside Islamkot Press Club. In the petition, he said the Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company and Sindh Coal Authority acquired the land under the urgency clause Section 4, 6 and 17 of Land Acquisition Act of 1894. According to Section 6 and 17, the mining authority can acquire land but after seeking permission of the land owner which the petitioner, Advocate Leela stated was not sought.

At the same time, he said work on Block II and V was currently under progress. Both the blocks came under the 12 blocks which were part of the Thar Coal Project.

Published in Dawn, November 8th, 2016

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